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Gay Men 44 Times More Likely To Get HIV

GMHC Responds to Shocking New Data

Media Contact:
Krishna Stone | 212.367.1016

New York, NY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released new statistics on incidence rates of HIV and syphilis among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The data, which identified MSM as men who have engaged sexually with another man within the last five years, revealed that MSM are over 44 times more likely than other men to contract HIV, and over 40 times more likely than women to contract HIV. Further, MSM were over 46 times more likely to contract syphilis than other men, and over 71 times more likely than women to contract syphilis.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) comprised 57% of people newly infected with HIV in 2006, according to the CDC, even though MSM are only 2% of the adult population. However, research shows that most gay men practice safer sex, and gay male couples are twice as likely as heterosexual couples to practice safer sex.

"The CDC's newly released statistics highlight how HIV continues to disproportionately affect gay men more than any other group in the U.S.," said Marjorie Hill, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "Greater prevention efforts targeted toward this population are clearly needed. We commend President Obama for proposing a new $28 million initiative in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget to expand innovative HIV prevention with gay and bisexual men. It is time the CDC match the trends of the epidemic," added Hill.

To combat the rate of HIV infection among MSM, GMHC encourages the implementation of the following innovative preventive measures:

  • Comprehensive sex education for middle school and high school students that explicitly addresses same-sex behavior.
  • School interventions that promote tolerance and acceptance of LGBT youth, such as gay-straight alliances and anti-bullying curricula. Such interventions correlate with lower HIV risk behavior among gay and bisexual men, and better health and school performance outcomes.
  • Scaling-up community-level interventions encouraging families to accept their gay sons, which is correlated with lower rates of gay and bisexual men's engagement in high-risk sexual behavior.
  • Community-level interventions, including social marketing campaigns, and use of social media, to address HIV stigma and homophobia.

A 2002 analysis of more than 60 behavioral studies published during the 1990s, written by the internationally-known HIV prevention theorist David Nimmons, found that between 60% and 70% of gay men used condoms when having sex, compared with a third or less of heterosexual men and women.[1] Other analyses published between 2000 and 2003 similarly found that gay men have safer sex at twice the rate of the general population.[2] [3] [4]

[1] Nimmons, D. (2002). The soul beneath the skin: The unseen hearts and habits of gay men. New York: St. Martin's Press. Cited in Halperin, D. (2007). What do gay men want? An essay on sex, risk, and subjectivity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

[2] Tim Dean. "Beyond sexuality." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

[3] Paul Flowers "Gay men and HIV/AIDS risk management." Health. 5.1 pp. 50-75, esp. 60, 2001.

[4] Jeffrey T. Parsons, et. al. "Correlates of sexual risk behaviors among HIV-positive men who have sex with men." AIDS Education and Prevention. 15.5  (October, 2003) as cited in David Halperin, What do gay men want? An essay on sex, risk, and subjectivity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 12-13, 2007. 


GMHC is the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy. Building on decades of dedication and expertise, we understand the reality of HIV/AIDS and empower a healthy life for all.

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