In 2016, of the 374,871 HIV tests that were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered in the U.S. South outside of health care facilities, just 6% were given to African-American men who have sex with men (MSM), even though 36% of the 2,304 new HIV diagnoses in non-health care facilities were among that population, a study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed.
In addition to the new diagnoses, 44% of the African-American MSM who tested positive in the study were identified as people who had previously been diagnosed with HIV. Re-testing may indicate that people are willing to return to HIV care, study authors hypothesized. However, only 58% of black MSM who were re-diagnosed with HIV were then linked to care within 90 days. Linkage to care was slightly better among newly diagnosed black MSM, at 67%, but both rates fell far short of the 85% goal specified within the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Racism, stigma, lower incomes and educational levels, and lack of health care access are all barriers to treatment, as is the considerable distance some people in rural areas must travel to get HIV care.
To reduce the HIV burden on this population, study authors recommended targeted risk-based testing in non-health care settings or routine screening in health care agencies, as well as better linkage to care for those diagnosed.