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What’s killing gay Black men in America?

Gay Black Men in America

What’s killing gay Black men in America?

From Healthy Black Men

     Health and social disparities undermine quality of life for brothers. Whether its high school dropout rates, homicide, cancers, or HIV/AIDS – Black men and especially gay Black men are disproportionately harmed by HIV/AIDS. What the heck is going on?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is a nearly 50 percent increase in infections in young Black gay men from 2003 to 2008. The unprecedented increase is more than in some of the world’s developing countries. Consider this, Black men who have sex with men (MSM) make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, yet account for one in four new HIV infections.

    Research presented at the International AIDS Conference last month identifies stronger evidence to existing estimates that young Black men who have sex with men represent the leading edge of the U.S. HIV epidemic.

    A study of Black gay and bisexual men in six U.S. cities found HIV infection rates that were 50 percent higher than among their white counter-parts, and rates were even higher for men under the age of 30 in the same community according to researchers.

    The epidemic is so ferocious among American Black gay and bisexual men it rivals those seen in sub-Saharan African countries that are hardest hit by the virus that causes AIDS. HIV/AIDS is literally killing the future of gay Black men, robbing men of quality of life and America of future leaders. It’s time to underscore the need for personal responsibility, delayed gratification. Sexual risk-taking among gay Black men is translating into new infections.

    *“I’m shocked and I’m worried,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, who led the study. “It’s a public health emergency. It is something we as a nation should not allow to happen,” he said.

    HIV infection is preventable. For example, a person can choose to not have sex or a share needle with someone who’s HIV status is unknown. A person might choose to be abstinent. One could also choose to be sexually active within a mutually monogamous relationship. Sexually active people can decide to use latex condoms, avoiding substance use that can cloud judgment. Black males (and their sex partners) should discuss potential consequences of unprotected sex (e.g. pregnancy, HIV infection, etc.)

    In a two year study (2009-2011) about 1,553 gay and bisexual men from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. were enrolled. Most of the men identified themselves as Black, del Rio said, and while not all identified themselves as gay or bisexual, they were having unprotected sex with men. The team tested all of the men for HIV infection, and referred those who were infected to get treatment.

    They continued to follow those who were not infected for a year, and found that overall, 2.3 percent of the men in the study became infected with HIV, a rate 50 percent higher than white men who have sex with men.

    The numbers were more startling when the researchers looked at men under the age of 30. In these men, 5.9 percent were infected with HIV at the end of the study period, a rate three times higher than white men who have sex with men.

    The study also highlighted the problem of high infection rates and low testing rates. Of the men in the study who had not been tested for HIV or did not know their status, 12 percent had positive tests at the start of the study. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

    Healthy Black Men exists to provide health information and promote healthier behaviors, resources to Black men.


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