New York City officials report that infection rates for the virus that causes AIDS have risen over the past six years, among gay men under 30.
The report released by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene gives that new diagnoses of the human immunodeficiency virus among gay men increased by 33 percent during the past six years, from 374 in 2001 to 499 in 2006. Teenage gay males aged 13 to 19 also saw an increase in HIV rates: from 41 new cases six years ago to 87 in 2006.
According to the report, the majority of new cases were among black and Latino gay men; more than 90 percent of young gay men under age 20 diagnosed with HIV were from either group, the report stated.
At the same time, the report gives no explanation why rates among young gay men under 30 or teens between the ages of 13 and 19 have increased.
Dr. Donna Futterman, director of the adolescent AIDS program at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, opines that teens from minority groups may feel they have to hide their sexual orientation.
"The pressure of covering up means you put yourself in riskier situations than if you could go on a date and ask out who you like," Futterman reasons.
Meanwhile, Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden has urged young men to reduce the number of partners they have and to protect themselves and their partners by using condoms more consistently.
Frieden said that a generation of young men was growing up without having seen their friends die of AIDS, which could be giving them a false "impression that HIV is not such a terrible infection."