WASHINGTON — The number of young homosexual men being newly diagnosed with HIV infection is rising by 12 percent a year, with the steepest upward trend in young black men, according to a new report.
The double-digit increase in young gay men is roughly 10 times higher than in the gay community overall, where the number of new infections is going up about 1.5 percent a year.
The report, released Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears to confirm impressions that a "second-wave" AIDS epidemic is under way in gay America.
"These men represent a new generation that has not been personally affected by AIDS in the same way that their older peers were," said Richard Wolitski, acting director of HIV/AIDS prevention at CDC.
The new data cover 33 states. Whether it reflects the entire country is unknown, although the states include New York, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, all of which have large numbers of HIV-infected people.
The study found that homosexual men were the only "risk group" in which the number of new infections rose annually from 2001 through 2006. In contrast, injecting drug users, homosexual men who injected drugs and heterosexuals each showed declines in new infections over that period.
In the 13-to-24-year-old group, the average annual increase was 12 percent, compared with a 1 percent decline in 25-to-44-year-olds, and a 3 percent rise in gay men 45 and older.
In the youngest age bracket, the yearly rise averaged 15 percent among blacks.
Studies have found that gay black men on average have fewer sex partners, are less likely to use drugs and are no more likely to have unprotected intercourse than gay white men. Consequently, the higher infection rate doesn't appear to arise from riskier behavior, but from a higher prevalence of HIV among blacks.
"When you see a 15 percent yearly increase, that is an epidemic that is out of control," said Phill Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.