HIV Rate Up 12 Percent Among Young Gay Men
Steepest Rise Is in Black Males Ages 13 to 24
The number of young homosexual men being newly diagnosed with HIV infection is rising by 12 percent a year, with the steepest upward trend in young black men, according to a new report.
The new data cover 33 states. Whether they reflect the entire country is unknown, although the states include New York, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, all of which have large numbers of HIV-infected people.
The study found that homosexual men were the only risk group in which the number of new infections rose annually from 2001 through 2006.
In contrast, injecting-drug users, homosexual men who injected drugs, and heterosexuals each showed declines in new infections over that period.
In the youngest age bracket, the yearly rise averaged 8 percent among Hispanics, 9 percent among whites and 15 percent among blacks.
Previous studies have found that gay black men on average have fewer sex partners, are less likely to use drugs and are no more likely to have unprotected intercourse than gay white men. Consequently, their higher rate of infection does not appear to arise from riskier behavior.
Instead, it reflects the higher prevalence of HIV -- as well as syphilis and gonorrhea, which increase a person's susceptibility to HIV -- in the black population.
"When you see a 15 percent yearly increase, that is an epidemic that is out of control," said Phill Wilson, head of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. "And yet we don't see a response that recognizes it is an epidemic out of control."
Ron Simmons, president of Us Helping Us, an AIDS service organization for gay black men, said the revolution in antiretroviral therapy in the last decade appears to have lessened the fear of HIV infection.
"I can remember going to a funeral every four or five days. Now, if you talk to some of these young men, they say, 'If I do get infected, I will simply take the blue pill or the pink pill, like my friend,' " he said.
A study published online last month in the American Journal of Public Health showed that prevention messages tailored for gay black men can work.
Of course no report on AIDS in the Black community is complete without:
Researchers recruited "opinion leaders" in the gay communities of three cities in North Carolina. The people were trained to talk to their peers not only about ways to protect themselves from HIV but also about other issues, such as homophobia in some black churches and racism.
Clearly there is a problem here. In their grab for answers people are inclined to talk about everything but the bottom line. The bottom line is that HIV is spread from mixing the body fluids of the infected person with someone who was not previously infected. Stop this and you stop the growing infections.
Sadly some people are to taken by that which has greater control over their sensibilities that they will ignore the risks of using that HIV infected needle to deliver their drug of choice or they desire the tactile stimulation of the nerve endings in their anus by their boyfriend's penis, ignoring the possibility that he might be infected with HIV.
This is not what some people want to hear but it is what people need to hear. The blaming of people or institutions residing outside of this basic question must stop.