Do you think the youth of America are getting tested? Are teens and twenty somethings taking the responsibility and testing for HIV?
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that HIV diagnoses are rising faster for young men who have sex with men (MSM) than for their older MSM peers. However, the extent to which the rates are being driven by increased testing or by an increase in transmission is unclear.
The CDC reported that between 2008-2016, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses among young MSM (those aged 13-29) increased by 3 percent per year, while decreasing 4 percent per year among MSM aged 30-49, and remaining virtually unchanged for MSM over the age of 50. Overall, the number of new infections among the youngest cohort of MSM was four times higher than among the 50-plus age group, MD Magazine reports. – mdmagazine.com
So are younger men getting tested more and therefore being diagnosed more? Are the "older" men not getting tested as much?
Andrew Mitsch, MPH, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the age-cohort disparities themselves were not a surprise, but he and his colleagues were struck by the size of the gaps. However, Mitsch told MD Magazine® the increase in diagnoses among young MSM might not be due to risky behavior.
“The increase in annual HIV diagnoses among younger gay and bisexual males might reflect increased HIV testing, in addition to ongoing transmission,” he said. “Our report suggests that the public health community and partners are reaching more members of this vulnerable group with HIV testing. It’s important to note, however, that some younger gay and bisexual males—like American Indian and Asian—are presenting at diagnosis with advanced immunosuppression.” – mdmagazine.com
But here in Wilton Manors, it seems every Friday and Saturday night there is at least one mobile testing center parked near one of the 14 gay bars on Wilton Drive. In my head, I'm thinking … I hope the young men of our community are using this service. Maybe I should just be thinking every gay man should be taking advantage of this service.
Of course, when ever we mention HIV these days, the PrEP debate/usage comes up as well.
One issue hanging over the discussion is utilization rates of PrEP, the pre-exposure prophylactic. Overall usage remains very low and varies widely by region. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month highlighted some of those disparities.
“[T]hough the CDC estimates that more than 1.1 million people in the United States would benefit from PrEP, it has been prescribed to less than 150,000 people since it went on the market,” wrote Robert H. Goldstein, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues. “Of these prescriptions, nearly 75% went to white gay or bisexual men, predominantly those living in the Northeast or on the West Coast.”
Mitsch agreed that access to PrEP remains an issue, but he said awareness is also a challenge.
“There is still work to do to increase knowledge of PrEP among both health care providers and a broader population of people who would benefit from its use,” he said. – mdmagazine.com
The best thing for all of this is communication. Communication with your doctors, with your partners, and even with your friends. Even a heated debate is one where HIV/AIDS is being discussed. It's a topic, a worry, a concern that will be with us for many years to come.
When was the last time you were tested? I get tested twice every year, once in April (my birth month) and once at Thanksgiving. It's just easy for me to remember and it's now habit since 1998, when I became sexually active. And to be honest, there are years where I have more tests than sexual partners.
Do you have a personal schedule for getting tested? Or do you wait until you think you might have "a scare" and then get tested?