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Risky sexual behavior fuels HIV increase

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Risky sexual behavior among men having sex with men under age 30 is a major contributor to the rise in HIV diagnoses, New York City health officials say.

The number of new human immunodeficiency virus diagnoses in New York City has not changed significantly in recent years – about 4,000 – but the number and proportion of new diagnoses among men who have sex with men continues to increase, health officials say.

Preliminary numbers suggest that men having sex with men accounted for 42 percent of the city’s new HIV diagnoses last year, up from 37 percent four years earlier, the study said.

For men ages 13-29 years old, this rising proportion reflects a rapid increase in actual infections from 551 in 2004 to 706 in a partial count for 2008.

“Despite the small possible decrease in total HIV diagnoses last year, nearly a quarter of new HIV diagnoses involved people who were already sick with AIDS,” Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner, said in a statement.

“That means that roughly 1,000 New Yorkers went for years without the care and treatment they needed, and may have been unwittingly infecting others the whole time. I urge all New Yorkers to take responsibility for their own health – and their community’s well being – by getting tested for HIV.”

© 2009 UPI. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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