POZlife

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

Gay Men Complacent When it Comes to HIV

Posted by pozlife on July 5, 2008

 

Gay Men Complacent When it Comes to HIV

By Mark Umbach | Article Date: 7/02/2008 10:41 AM

Has the LGBT community become complacent when it comes to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention? In recent years, an unnerving trend has shown its face in the gay community, and a new study from the Center for Disease Control is validating that claim. A study released last week has shown increases in new diagnoses of HIV in the category of “men who have sex with men,” or MSM.

In the five year span that was looked at (2001-2006), the highest number of new transmissions in the United States occurred in the MSM category. Also important to note is the fact that the category is called “men who have sex with men,” and not “gay men” or “bisexual men,” pointing to the fact that not all of these new infections were reported by men who identify as being either gay or bisexual.

In any case, perhaps an even more alarming figure is that the highest rate of the new transmissions occurred among men ages 12 to 24 years old! Additionally, the rate of new infections was even higher among racial minorities.

This is the time on GaySports.com where we pull out the soap box, get out our ladder and climb right back up on the top. How, as a society, can we allow this to be happening to our youth? And, even more importantly, what are the factors contributing to these increases?

As I was sitting down to write this article, I began to realize how, with other important victories being won by the gay community, the battle against HIV and AIDS has seemed to take a backseat.

California handed the community a huge victory in allowing marriage equality over the past few months, and that fight must go on. As most people are now aware, voters in CA will be casting a ballot in November as to whether or not the want to overturn the State Supreme Court’s ruling to allow for marriage equality.

While that fight continues, we must dust off the spotlight and focus on our youth. Children need to know the risks involved with unsafe sexual practices. Going in armed with the facts allows for proper and responsible decision making. If no one informs this younger generation, they will not be prepared.

We are well aware some folks may not make the best decisions no matter how much they know, but we at least need to provide the proper tools and knowledge of risk factors.

The rate of new infections among ethnic minorities may be attributed to socio-economic factors as well. Often, testing and treatment facilities are not as readily available in poorer urban areas. Not being tested lends itself to the invincible feeling many people have. “I don’t need to get tested. This could never happen to me.”

According to the CDC report, upon learning one’s status “most reduce their high-risk sexual behavior.” In an effort to promote sexual health, the CDC opened a number of new testing sites in 23 different areas with the highest rate of HIV cases.

Point being, the time has come for HIV/AIDS education to make a resurgence. Protecting and arming our younger generations, as well as all generations, needs to be a top priority.

These new statistics serve as a wake up call.

For information on where to get tested, go to www.HIVTest.org. For more information HIV prevention and awareness, go to www.AIDSHealth.org.

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