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More Than 50% HIV Infected Gay and Bisexual Men Avoid Treatment

Update Date: Sep 25, 2014 02:25 PM EDT
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A worrying trend has shown that in recent years nearly half the HIV positive gay and bisexual men shied away from treatment.

According to USA Today, the findings were revealed by US Center for Disease Control on Thursday. The data collected for the year 2010 showed that while 77% percent of newly diagnosed gay and bisexual men received initial care in that year, only 51 percent received continued care. Also, treatment rates among men under 25 was just around 30 percent, which increased to 68 percent in men aged over 55. The situation has not changed much in the intervening years, researchers said.

"This report shows that of the most powerful tools for protecting people's health and preventing new HIV infections is reaching only a fraction of the gay men who need it," David Purcell working in CDC's HIV prevention division told USA Today.

Seeking treatment for HIV is fraught with stigma and young men may want to avoid going to a clinic fearing friends and family rejection. However older men who may have seen their friends pass away due to the disease, are better poised to overcome their inhibitions to seek treatment. Treatment with antiretroviral medication is largely aimed at controlling viral load and preventing HIV's spread, allowing for normal living.

Quoting another study by Kaiser Family Foundation, Vox reported that gay and bisexual men aged under 35 were twice unlikely to get tested for HIV when compared to older men. Of the 431 men who were part of the study, more than half of them reported not being concerned about HIV infection while 64 percent said they did not get tested for HIV in more than a year.

"It is amazing at a time when testing and treatment offer so much hope in this epidemic, and when gay and bisexual men face such high rates, we've yet to succeed in more regular screening and educating gay and bi men about treatment," Michael Kaplan, President & CEO of Washington-based advocacy AIDS United, told Washington Post.  

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