February 26, 2007
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The one bright spot is that, in the most recent birth cohorts -- that is, those people born since 1967 -- the age-specific risk of acquiring HIV is lower, though still high. Those are the principal findings of this study.
Why do you think that people born since 1967 acquired HIV at a lower rate? Do you attribute this to more prevention education?
I think people did change their behavior. You're seeing the highest [HIV] risk in people who were in their teens and early twenties in the early and mid-1980s. So people who are coming of age, from a sexual standpoint, more in the mid-1990s, late 1990s, probably are safer overall.
All these statistics pertain to men who have sex with men (MSM)?
This is all MSM. Now, the one limitation is that these are data from [only] King County, Washington. Whether these same estimates would be true in other places, it's hard to know. But the overall prevalence of HIV, or the estimated prevalence of HIV, in men who have sex with men in King County is not radically different from that in other major urban parts of the United States.
Did you find anything unexpected?
The fact that we had a lower age-specific prevalence in the younger cohorts I had not anticipated -- which is a good thing. That's the one bright spot.
No one thinks that HIV prevention is working.
I think people are very cynical. Look, we need to do a lot better [in our prevention efforts]. On the other hand, I think probably the age-specific risk is lower for people who were born more recently than it was for people who were born in the mid-1960s.
What do you think made the big difference between the older groups and the youngest group?
I think condom use. I think a lot of things have changed, in terms of sexual norms, between people who were 20 years old in 1985 and people who are 20 in 1995, or 2005.
Was this broken down by race?
No. We wouldn't have had sufficient numbers to really look at race specific data.
To view this study abstract, click here.
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