In new guide, CDC says gay, bisexual men should be tested for HIV every three to six months

On the 30th anniversary of the first American publication to note a strange new disease in previously healthy gay men, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has issued a new guidance on how often gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men should be tested for HIV.

The new guidance, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report — where, incidentally that first notation of HIV/AIDS was published — was released Friday. The report proposes men who have sex with men, gay and/or bisexual men should be tested for the virus every three to six months.

Although men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise an estimated 2% of the overall U.S. population aged ≥13 years (1), 59% of persons with diagnoses of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the United States in 2009 were MSM, including MSM who inject drugs (2). CDC recommends HIV testing at least annually for sexually active MSM to identify HIV infections and prevent ongoing transmission (3). Results of HIV testing conducted as part of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) in 21 cities indicated that 19% of MSM who were tested in 2008 were HIV-positive; of these, 44% were unaware that they were infected (4). To assess whether MSM were tested as recommended and whether more frequent testing might be indicated, CDC analyzed NHBS data for 2008. This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that, of 7,271 MSM interviewed and tested who did not report a previous positive HIV test, 61% had been tested for HIV infection during the past 12 months; among these, 7% had a new, positive HIV test result when tested as part of NHBS. Given the high prevalence of new HIV infection among MSM who had been tested during the past year, sexually active MSM might benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).

Earlier releases of the NHBS numbers found that one in five men who have sex with men, gay and/or bisexual men from those 21 cities was infected with HIV. Of those who were infected, 44 percent had not idea they were positive for the virus.

Detroit was one of the 21 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) that participated in the study. For that city, 312 people were tested. Of those tested, 44 were positive for HIV, while 31 of these did not know they had the virus.

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