By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 27, 2010 ( – Nearly half of sexually active homosexual men infected with the virus causing AIDS are unaware that they are carriers of the deadly disease, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The now released CDC study of 21 U.S. metropolitan areas in 2008 found that out of 8,153 sexually active homosexual and bisexual men, one out of five (1562) tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Of those infected, 44 percent (680) were unaware that they were carrying – and by implication spreading – HIV.

The CDC says that men who have sex with men (MSM) expose themselves to far greater risks for infection with HIV.

According to the CDC the rate of new HIV diagnoses among homosexual men is more than 44 times that of heterosexual men.

The CDC also reported that MSM were responsible for 53 percent of new HIV infections in the United States in 2006. That year, the CDC recorded an estimated 56,300 new HIV cases.

CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system (NHBS) collected the data by interviewing men 18 years and older at venues where they expected active homosexuals to gather, such as bars, clubs, and social organizations.

The US Food and Drug Administration has been under pressure to lift its ban – in place since 1983 – against MSM donating blood, arguing that current blood tests can detect the presence of HIV.

But defenders of the FDA policy have pointed out that there is a period of up to six months after a person becomes infected in which blood tests do not reveal HIV. This raises the chance for an HIV-positive individual to transmit it to someone else.

The FDA also states that HIV tests can fail to detect all infected blood donors. Since over 20 million blood transfusions each year, the FDA says that even a very small failure rate increases the chance of having undetected HIV in the donor population.

The CDC findings were published in September 24 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

See related coverage by

U.S. Blood Ban for Gays Remains

CDC: Gay Men Over 44 Times More Likely HIV+ than Hetero Men

High Occurrence in Africa of HIV among Homosexual Men Study Finds


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