POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

California: Gay Men’s Health Summit to Address Rise in HIV Rates

Posted by pozlife on November 1, 2007

October 23, 2007

Condom use, the risks of crystal methamphetamine, and dating someone who is HIV-positive were among topics slated for discussion over the weekend at "Power and Pride," the San Fernando Valley’s first gay men’s summit. Organizers hoped to address both rising HIV rates, particularly among Latinos, and STD infections among young gay men.

"The main issue is the lack of condom use," said Herberth Osorio, health education specialist for the Northeast Valley Health Corp, the event’s co-coordinator. "Guys are afraid of using condoms because they are afraid of being accused of having a disease. They tell me, ’I don’t want him to get the wrong impression.’"

Latinos represented 48 percent of Los Angeles County AIDS diagnoses in 2004, according to the county’s Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. Since 2001, syphilis cases have increased 365 percent among gay and bisexual men in the county, public health data show. Community leaders and health experts acknowledged that many young gay men are lax about safe sex measures.

"This summit is important because the Valley has a large Latino community, and we Latinos are afraid to talk about our sexuality," said Osorio. "Even for those who are straight, if they have a gay relative, it’s important to have this information. HIV is not just happening among gay men."

"The numbers point out that HIV/AIDS is on the rise continually," said Ruben Acosta of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the summit’s other coordinator. Negative feelings about being gay could be behind some men’s risky behavior, said Acosta, the center’s associate director for health education and prevention.

The summit was jointly funded by CDC and the county Department of Public Health.

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