Background: Surveillance for HIV likely underestimates infection among the general population: 25% of US residents are estimated to be unaware of their HIV infection.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of HIV infection and risk behaviors among New York City (NYC) adults and compare these with surveillance findings.
Methods: The NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES) provided the first opportunity to estimate population-based HIV prevalence among NYC adults. It was conducted in 2004 among a representative sample of adults > 20 years. Previously reported HIV infection was identified from the NYC HIV/AIDS Surveillance Registry. A blinded HIV serosurvey was conducted on archived blood samples of 1626 NYC HANES participants. Data were used to estimate prevalence for HIV infection, unreported infections, high-risk activities, and self-perceived risk.
Results: Overall, 18.1% engaged in one or more risky sexual/needle-use behaviors, of which 92.2% considered themselves at low or no risk of HIV or another sexually transmitted disease. HIV occurred in 21 individuals (prevalence 1.4%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.8–2.5]; one infection (5%; 95% CI, 0.7–29.9) was not reported previously and possibly undiagnosed. HIV infection was significantly elevated in those with herpes simplex virus 2 (4%), men who have sex with men (14%), and needle-users (21%) (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Among NYC adults, HIV prevalence was consistent with surveillance findings overall. The proportion of unreported HIV was less than estimated nationally, but findings were limited by sample size. Most adults with risky behaviors perceived themselves to be at minimal risk, highlighting the need for risk reduction and routine HIV screening.