” fools rush in where wise men never go”
This Blog does not support the very draconian anti- LGBT laws passed by some countries recently but with the HIV epidemics such that 60% of Black MSM in the USA who were 18 years old in 2008 predicted to be HIV +ve by age 40 and the substantial risk factors for this startling prediction being anal receptive intercourse and role reversal in MSM networks one would have expected some clear thinking by the Congressional Black Caucus.
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The Shocking Second HIV Epidemic Among U.S. Gay Men That No One Is Talking About
Pop quiz, no cheating allowed: if you had to guess, would you say that HIV and AIDS rates among gay men in the United States are A) declining, B) remaining stable, or C) rising?
The correct answer is C) rising, at an alarming8% per year. HIV incidence — that is, the proportion of a population infected — among gay men in the United States rises by that amount every year since at least 2001. Overall, this incidence, at 15.4% cumulatively, is just slightly lower than the incidence among gay men in Sub–Saharan Africa. And there’s a good case to be made that the real numbers are actually higher; for instance, we know they’re higher in some major metropolitan areas, where the incidence among MSM (men who have sex with men) is oneinfive. In San Francisco, it may beashighasonein four.
Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 400,000and500,000 gay men in the United States carried the virus in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available. Chillingly, gay and bisexual men are the only demographic toexperienceariseinHIV infection rates.
These are astonishing facts. The AIDS epidemic is now over three decades old and has takenover600,000 lives in the U.S. alone. That’s more casualties than were seen in the entire Civil War. It’s also noteworthy that new infections in the U.S. are numerically stable overall, at roughly 50,000 a year over the last decade or so — a number seemingly impervious to public or private prevention efforts.
Considering the carnage AIDS has inflicted on gay men in particular, it’s urgent that we examine what, if anything, can be done to save lives and to prevent the widespread damage of another generation — today’s young men. The fewer than 1% of Americans who are gay or bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 29 comprise 27% of new infections.
Public health experts have been concerned about the rising rates among MSM for years now, viewing the current epidemic as the second wave — the first having occurred in the 1980s. Today’s infections, they say, are affecting a new generation of men who didn’t live through the initial devastation of AIDS’ early days, when there were no drug treatments and a diagnosis was a death sentence. Public health messages about safe sex practices and testing targeted to gay men have waned in the intervening years, and now, some experts say, a new generation of at-risk men have to be educated about the disease.
There is no single reason why HIV rates have been rising again among gay men for at least a decade, or one tool that could hinder the process. The best we can do is identify contributing factors (with limited hard data), consider approaches to reach vulnerable demographics and help change behaviors.
Effective HIV therapy has been around since 1996, in the form of HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) drugs. These drugs reduced mortality rates, previously near 100%, by 50% to 80%, and gave HIV patients a new lease on life.
An unintended side effect was that the drugs also reduced the visibility of the disease within the gay community. The “gay ghettos” of large cities were no longer the sole mournful province of the walking dead. The sense of urgency around the epidemic began to fade, whileindicatorsofunprotected sex, specifically the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases, began to rise.
Forty-one members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on the Obama administration to review all aid to countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality in a letter sent on Tuesday.
The letter praises the administration’s “internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda” in response to the country’s new law imposing up to a life sentence for homosexuality, but urges the administration to broaden its reassessment to examine relationships with all countries with anti-gay laws. The representatives note that that Nigeria recently enacted legislation similar to Uganda’s and that lawmakers in other African nations are reportedly trying to do the same.
“Such laws not only violate human rights, they endanger lives and undermine public health efforts, most notably programs to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective,” the group writes.
Obama administration officials have said they are “reviewing” partnerships in Uganda since the law was enacted last month, but they have repeatedly declined to provide any details of what steps have been taken. Congressional sources also say that the administration has left key questions about this process unanswered for lawmakers.
The CBC members also urge the administration to divert aid dollars away from governments and non-governmental organizations that “support discriminatory laws.” This could refer to organizations like the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which has received millions of U.S. dollars for their HIV programs while promoting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The members also request U.S. embassies to be given the power to protect and assist “individuals endangered by anti-LGBT laws.” They also encourage the United States work with the United Nations, the African Union, and other diplomatic institutions to try to repeal such laws.