Despite alarming rates at which Black and Latino gay and bisexual men are contracting HIV ( new infections increased by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009) the national rate of new infections has remained virtually stable, according to the 2011 data from the CDC.
Recently, Rod McCullom, founder of Rod 2.0 and contributing writer for a number of media outlets including Ebony.com, sat down with Gregorio Millett, M.P.H., the CDC and Department of Health and Human Service's liaison to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, at this year’s International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.
Here’s an excerpt from their interview:
"In many ways Americans feel somewhat divorced from HIV/AIDS," says Millett. "Part of the reason is because the government has done a terrific job responding to the horrific rates of HIV/AIDS in many other regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa. That's part of the reason why President Obama released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy two years ago," he adds.
The four-part plan refocuses resources on the domestic epidemic and prioritizes Black Americans, who represent only 13 percent of the U.S. population but about 44 percent (pdf) of new HIV infections. Read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of our report on the NHAS.
"Black gay and bisexual men are believed to represent less than 1 percent of the nation's population, but we represent an estimated one-quarter of all new infections every year. That's quite alarming," says Millett. "Black gay and bisexual men also disproportionately seroconvert at much younger ages compared to other gay men."
In the nation's capital -- and the conference's host -- the 3.2 percent HIV-prevalence rate remains the highest in the country -- "higher than West Africa and on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya," reported the Washington Post. But for the first time in years, the number of new AIDS cases is declining.
"In Southeast D.C. and in DuPont Circle, infections are much higher compared to other neighborhoods in the metropolitan area," Millett says, referring to predominantly Black and gay areas. "The conference serves as a reminder of the successes and the opportunities that we face on the domestic front."
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Rod McCullom has written and produced for ABC News and NBC, and his reporting and analysis have appeared in Ebony, The Advocate, The Body and other media. McCullom blogs on politics, pop culture and Black gay news at rod20.com