via, by Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., FFPH, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

In 1981, our nation and its public health system were grappling with a new disease that was taking the lives of gay men across the United States. Thirty years later, HIV/AIDS continues to be a crisis among gay and bisexual men. The latest data show men who have sex with men (MSM) remain most affected in this country. Although MSM represent 2% of the population, they account for 64% of all new infections (including 3% among MSM who are injection drug users [IDUs]). CDC estimates that there were more than 30,000 new HIV infections in 2009 among MSM, including MSM-IDU. Though the numbers have gone down dramatically, approximately 7,000 MSM with an AIDS diagnoses still die each year and nearly 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.

Today, we commemorate the fourth annual National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an observance founded by the National Association of People with AIDS to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men. This annual observance is one way we are focusing attention and resources on those populations at highest risk for HIV infection, including gay and bisexual men. This focus is a top priority outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

To reach those at risk, CDC is pursuing High Impact Prevention to support the most effective and impactful programs to aggressively reach the goals of the National Strategy. The interventions are being implemented at the federal, state, and local levels to reach the right populations at a scale large enough to make a significant difference. These approaches include expanded testing efforts to ensure more gay and bisexual men get tested at least annually, more often if at increased risk;prevention programs for people living with HIV and their partners; condom distribution; demonstration projects that focus on the most heavily affected communities; and matching HIV prevention funding for health departments and community-based organizations in those locations with the highest HIV burden.

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