The Centers for Disease Control released startling information last week. According to the report, half of all black gay men are projected to be diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus during their lifetime.The most recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revelation is the result of a study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. The study provided the first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) HIV diagnosis for several key populations at risk in every state.

When the results of the study were announced, Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention cautioned, “As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are—they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action.”

Mermin further explained how the prevention and care strategies at the nation’s disposal today provides a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and its disparities in the U.S.; but, he adamantly warned that  “hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now.”

“These estimates are a sobering reminder that gay and bisexual men face an unacceptably high risk for HIV – and of the urgent need for action,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “If we work to ensure that every American has access to the prevention tools we know work, we can avoid the outcomes projected in this study.”

African Americans remain at the greatest risk for HIV. According to the recent CDC report, while studies have shown that African Americans do not engage in risky sexual behavior any more than any other race of ethnic group, African American men overall are almost seven times more likely than white men to be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. Sadly, the disparity among women is even greater. One in forty-eight African American women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes, compared with one in two hundred and twenty seven Hispanic women and one in eight hundred and eighty white women.

Reasons for these disparities offered by the CDC included risk factors they believe account for the disparity as the higher prevalence of HIV within the African American community which poses an increased risk of infection with each sexual encounter. This factor, in addition to the lack of access to healthcare, poverty and the stigma of the disease, the CDC believes all contribute to the broad HIV disparity that exists in the African American community. Others wonder if there may be some other reasons including a possible genetic factor.

McCray said, “These estimates are a sobering reminder that gay and bisexual men face an unacceptably high risk for HIV – and of the urgent need for action. “He added, “If we work to ensure that every American has access to the prevention tools we know work, we can avoid the outcomes projected in this study.”

Last year, the (CDC) delivered mixed news to the African American community regarding HIV when it reported that although the death rate among blacks living with HIV was declining, it simultaneously reported the death rate Among African Americans was still higher than any other race or ethnic group in America.

Visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2016/croi-press-release-risk.html for more information on this study. For more information regarding health disparities in the African American community visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/healthdisparities/AfricanAmericans.html.

Lifetime Risk of HIV Diagnosis among MSM by Race/Ethnicity

Gay and Bisexual Men of Color Face Strikingly High Risk: While gay and bisexual men overall have the highest lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis, that risk varies considerably based on race and ethnicity. At current rates, 1 in 2 African American MSM and 1 in 4 Hispanic MSM will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 11 white MSM.

Lifetime Risk of HIV Diagnosis by State

Lifetime Risk in California (1 in 102). Lifetime Risk Is Higher for People in the Southern United States: People living in the South are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV over the course of their life than people in other parts of the country. States where risk is greatest include Maryland (1 in 49), Georgia (1 in 51), Florida (1 in 54), and Louisiana (1 in 56).