Sexual Health News - HIV
Fairbanks experiences outbreak of HIV
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services recently released a bulletin to the public warning of an outbreak of HIV infections. Officials believe the new cases stem from Army personnel who have used online services to find sexual partners.
According to the bulletin, there have been nine newly reported cases of HIV in the Fairbanks area over the past 13 months, eight of whom were men. Seven of these men said they had recently met men through Craigslist and another gay dating website for sexual encounters.
"We're trying to get the word out to individuals who are at risk. These are men who have sex with men (MSM) - they may not actually identify as being gay but they may choose to have sex with men - who are finding their partners through the internet, and having sex with people they don’t know, and having unprotected sexual activity," state HIV/STD program manager Susan Jones said, quoted by the Daily News-Miner.
Authorities are urging MSM who have had sex with someone they me through an online dating service to get tested for HIV. Additionally, the bulletin is meant to alert healthcare providers to the outbreak and inform them of the persons who are most at risk of becoming infected.
Army Lt. Col. Bill Coppernoll said that the military branch has mandatory HIV testing every two years for soldiers, and that some receive screening more frequently.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MSM make up only 2 percent of the population in the U.S., yet account for an estimated 53 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Additionally, MSM who are African American and between the ages of 13 and 29 are even more likely than their older, white or Hispanic counterparts to become infected with the virus.