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HIV alarm for mid-age blacks

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BANGKOK The middle-aged black man is emerging as HIV's newest face, especially in Manhattan.

More and more black men between the ages of 40 and 54 are testing positive for HIV and many have probably been infected for years without knowing, new city health statistics reveal.

Of the 75,000-plus city residents living with the human immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS 1 in 15 is a black middle-aged man, statistics show.

The figures were released today at the 15th International AIDS conference in Thailand's capital city, where 15,000 scientists and world leaders met to discuss new findings and AIDS research.

While Brooklyn had the largest number of HIV-positive middle-aged black men, with 3,258, Manhattan had the higher ratio, with 2,812 out of the estimated 22,776 HIV-positive residents. That figure represents 1 in 8 men, versus 1 in 21 in Brooklyn.

(The exact total number of HIV-positive Brooklyn residents was not immediately available.)

"We're going to have to address this as a whole and stop compartmentalizing those affected," said Pernessa Seel of Balm-in-Gilead, a Midtown-based AIDS-advocacy group.

Of the city's 11,039 black middle-aged men infected, the virus had progressed to AIDS in 1,523 of them by the time they were diagnosed.

"The high rate of concurrent diagnoses indicates that many were long infected but not tested until symptomatic," city scientists said in a statement after presenting the data.

City officials, who began collecting and reporting HIV statistics in 2000, also found that one in 10 of the city's infected black middle-aged men were born abroad, with the bulk of the coming from the Caribbean, followed by Africa and South America.

According to U.N. figures, there were 37.8 million people living with HIV worldwide 4.8 million of whom were infected last year alone.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.


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