Feb 25, 2016 10:23 PM EST
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all gay black men and a quarter of gay Latino men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with HIV, CBS News reports.
The findings were presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.
Black men who have sex with men are 250 times more likely as heterosexual U.S. men to be diagnosed with HIV, according to the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to AOL.
"As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are, they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a statement.
"The prevention and care strategies we have at our disposal today provide a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and disparities in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don't scale up efforts now."
For the study, researchers analyzed data on diagnoses and death rates from 2009 to 2013 to show the lifetime risk of HIV diagnosis in the U.S. by sex, race and ethnicity, state, and HIV risk group.
Gay and bisexual men continue to be at the greatest risk for HIV in the U.S. If diagnosis rates remain the same, 1 in 6 gay males will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
African-Americans have a lifetime HIV risk of 1 in 20 for men and 1 in 48 for women.
The CDC reported several challenges related to prevention to higher HIV infection rates in the African-American community.
Since people tend to have sex with partners of the same race, African Americans face a greater risk of infection with each new sexual encounter. African Americans also have higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Other factors that hinder the prevention of higher infection rates are socioeconomic issues, poverty, limited access to high-quality health care, housing and HIV prevention education.
However, the CDC is hopeful that these projections do not have to become a reality.
"These estimates are a sobering reminder that gay and bisexual men face an unacceptably high risk for HIV - and of the urgent need for action," said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
"If we work to ensure that every American has access to the prevention tools we know work, we can avoid the outcomes projected in this study."
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