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hiv rates

New HIV infections among young black men who have sex with men have increased nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2009 in the U.S., according to a recent study.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that African-American men had the highest rate of new HIV infections of all groups in 2009. Their rate of infection was more than 2 ½ times that of the next highest groups, Hispanic men and black women.

According to the study, new infections among black men who have sex with men aged 13 to 29 increased from 4,400 cases in 2006 to 6,500 cases in 2009. In Illinois, “the picture is incredibly similar,” the report states.

According to the CDC study, reasons for the increase are not fully known, but may include an already high prevalence of HIV among black men who have sex with men. Societal factors-such as the stigma of HIV and homosexuality, limited access to health care, and poverty-were also noted.

Experts also note that young men are more likely to get infected than older men because their lack of education and experience make them take greater risks.

“Perhaps these young men are a little na•ve, and so, many continue to think ‘it won’t happen to me,'” said Cheryl Ward, the HIV surveillance program administrator at the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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