New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently released startling numbers: In 2006, 72 of every 100,000 New Yorkers—a total of almost 4,800 individuals—contracted HIV. That’s more than triple the national rate of 23 new infections per 100,000. “The populations that bear the greatest burden nationally—blacks, for example, and men who have sex with men [MSM]—are highly represented in New York City,” said the city’s health commissioner, Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, in a written statement. “Because HIV is more prevalent within those groups, the risk of HIV infection per sexual contact is higher.”

African-American MSM were more likely to become infected with the virus than people in other population groups.

These numbers come on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the HIV prevalence rate in the United States was higher than expected—56,300 Americans became infected with HIV in 2006, a 40 percent increase of the CDC’s longstanding estimate of 40,000 annual new infections.

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