Obama Touts National HIV Testing Day, Does Not Include Facts about Highest Risk Group

By Penny Starr | June 27, 2012 | 5:10pm EDT

President Barack Obama (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama issued a statement on Wednesday marking National HIV Testing Day that includes praise for better access to testing because of the Affordable Care Act but does not include facts about the disease and those who are at highest risk of contracting it.

“National HIV Testing Day highlights the importance of HIV testing and the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Obama said. “Of the over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, more than 200,000 are unaware of their infection, and may unknowingly be transmitting the virus to others.

“The Affordable Care Act now requires many health insurance plans to provide recommended preventive health services with no out of pocket costs, giving millions of Americans better access to HIV testing,” Obama said.

The president did not, however, cite the statistics from Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show while “gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent 2 percent of the U.S. population” in 2009 “MSM accounted for 61 percent of new HIV infections.”

The CDC offers “Fast Facts” on HIV on its web site above a picture of two homosexual men.

• Gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group in the United States (US).

• Among all gay and bisexual men, blacks/African Americans bear the greatest disproportionate burden of HIV.

• From 2006 to 2009, HIV infection among young black/African American gay and bisexual men increased 48 percent.

Obama said that testing is part of reaching the goal of an “AIDS-free generation.”

According to the CDC, “sexual risk behaviors account for most HIV infections in MSM. Unprotected receptive anal sex is the sexual behavior that carries the highest risk for HIV acquisition.

“For sexually active MSM, the most effective ways to prevent HIV and many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are to avoid anal sex, or for MSM who do have anal sex, to always use condoms,” according to the CDC.

“MSM are at increased risk for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and CDC recommends that all sexually active MSM be tested annually for these STIs,” the CDC advises.

HIV can also be transmitted through the sharing of needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection, being born to an infected mother and through other means involving contact with HIV-infected blood.

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