Thursday, September 27, 2012

New HIV Statistics on National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

New HIV Statistics on National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD)

September 27th is National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD)

Founded in 2008 by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), the National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a reminder of those we've lost to the pandemic, and also that, despite all the recent progress, we have a long way to go until there's a cure, a vaccine, until we eradicate AIDS and we can truly talk about an AIDS free generation. 

This year's NGMHAAD, September 27th, also brings into focus the alarming numbers of HIV infections among MSMs, in particular young African American MSMs. And the numbers, results of most recent research studies, tell their story.

For example, at the national level, 2009 studies show that:

14 percent of the US population represents African Americans

37 percent of new HIV infections represent African American MSMs, among all MSMs (men who have sex with men)

44 percent of new HIV infections occur among African Americans

48 percent of new HIV infections were found in young African American MSMs, ages 13 to 29, between 2006 and 2009

73 percent of new HIV infections among African American men are African American MSMs

In Florida, a 2010 study shows that:

20 percent of young African American MSMs ages 13 to 24 also have sex with women

28 percent of MSM living with HIV/AIDS are between 13 to 29 years old

MSMs count for more than 50 percent of the newly diagnosed individuals. Recent studies also reported an increase in the number of syphilis and other STDs among MSMs. Syphilis and other STDs can increase the risk of getting infected with HIV.

Why these numbers in this day and age?

Factors include homophobia, poverty, racism or lack of access to healthcare. Community workers explain that African Americans are not always the most progressive when it comes to social issues. As a result, they may find it difficult to talk about sex, HIV, drugs, MSMs or other at-risk groups. As a result, individuals part of at-risk groups, like MSMs avoid getting tested for HIV or, when they, do, it’s late in the game.

Why should we care?

Because some of those directly affected by HIV/AIDS may be our friends, sons, siblings… people we usually care about.

What can we do to help?

That’s a subject for another post. Meanwhile, let’s get involved in fighting AIDS stigma, let’s judge less and listen more, encourage people to get tested, question and find the answers about HIV/AIDS. In the process, we may begin to better understand the complex subject of AIDS and try to make a difference for the better.

Thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS

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