*Does the Black community have a greater proportion of homosexual males than other major population groups in this country? Are Black gays less sexually careful than white or Hispanic gay males?

Is the disproportionate incarceration of young Black men playing a role in the rapid spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

Those were some of the questions being raised last week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its latest figures on the spread of the deadly disease. Overall, the report revealed that while African Americans represent 13.6 percent of the nation’s population, they constitute 50.3 percent of all diagnosed cases of HIV.

Despite those disproportionate figures, HIV infections appear to be declining for all segments of the Black population, except for young Black gay males aged 15 to 29. Indeed, in a separate report, CDC researchers revealed that HIV diagnoses have skyrocketed among young Black gay males in Milwaukee where the increase between 2000 and 2008 was 144 percent. Officials believe similar increases have taken place in other cities around the nation.

The reasons for the increases are not entirely clear; but the CDC’s Dr. Kevin Fenton suggests poverty, complacency the disproportionate incarceration of young Black males may all be factors. Fenton explained, “This [incarceration] leads to imbalances in male-to-female rations in the community, which in turn result in sexual networks which facilitate transmission of HIV.”

Additional information about Blacks and the HIV epidemic can be found online by visiting U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.