LONG BEACH - Youth represent 7 percent of the more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States, but account for 26 percent of new infections, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which was released in advance of World AIDS Day today, also found that 60 percent of infected youths, those age 13-24, don't know they are infected.

Overall, an estimated 12,200 new HIV infections occurred in 2010 among young people aged 13-24, with 72 percent of the infections in gay and bisexual men and 57percent in African-Americans, the study says.

Long Beach reflects those findings, experts said.

"Those numbers are consistent with what we see locally," said Michael Buitron, outreach specialist with the CARE Program at St. Mary Medical Center. "The state of HIV has been consistently bad for 10 to 15 years," he said. "Hardly any money is spent on prevention efforts targeting gay and bisexual men."

To improve HIV/AIDS education and mark World AIDS Day, several local organizations are having events today.

The Long Beach AIDS Foundation will host a free video and art competition today from noon to 10 p.m. at the Cultural Alliance Long Beach, 727 Pine Ave. It will include live music, DJs and more.

The Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Center, 2017 E. Fourth St., also will host a free World AIDS Day program from 2-6 p.m. It will include an art exhibit and HIV and youth panel discussion.


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Later, a candlelight procession will leave the center and end at the bluff across from Bixby Park at Cherry Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

At the park, the center and the CARE Program are planning to announce details of the Long Beach AIDS Ride, a 70- mile bike ride from Long Beach to Irvine and back and a 40-mile ride from Long Beach to Newport Beach and back. The charity ride will benefit the center and the CARE Program.

It is scheduled to take place next year for World AIDS Day.

Another event by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is a World AIDS Day community forum titled "Getting to Zero" at 9:30 a.m. today at the Miller Family Health Education Center, 3820 Cherry Ave. The forum will include a panel discussion from experts in the medical community and a panel from community members.

In Long Beach, 6,151 cases of AIDS have been reported in the city since the first case in 1983, according to statistics ending in December 2011 from the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.

The city started officially recording HIV cases in 2006, after a state law was passed requiring health care providers and laboratories to report cases of HIV infection by name to local health departments.

Since then, 1,500 cases of HIV have been recorded.

Of those infected with HIV, 87 percent were men and 73 percent contracted the disease through male-to-male sexual contact.

Overall, the Long Beach AIDS incidence rate is 100 percent higher than Los Angeles County and more than double that of the state, according to the Health Department's HIV/AIDS Monitoring Report.

Several factors contribute to the high levels of HIV in young gay and bisexual black men, including poverty, lack of access to health care, stigma and discrimination, according to the CDC report.

Youths also face more risk of HIV infection because more people are HIV positive now than 25 years ago, Buitron said.

In an effort to find out who is positive and to prevent new HIV infections, health experts advocate everyone get tested at a doctor's office, testing center or mobile testing unit.

"The sooner people test positive, the sooner we can get them into treatment and stop future infections," he said.

phillip.zonkel@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1258, twitter.com/outinthe562