Why HIV Rates Are So High Among Gay And Bi Black Men
A report last week from the Black AIDS Institute revealed that HIV and AIDS affect gay and bi black men more than any other demographic—but why?
The report—entitled Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America"—said that gay and bi black men represent nearly 25 percent of new HIV infections and that black gay men have a roughly 1-in-4 chance of being infected by age 25 and a 3-in-5 chance of infection by age 40.
Plus, 60 percent of gay black men who test positive for HIV had no idea that they were even infected beforehand. And HIV+ gay black men are far more likely than HIV+ white and Latino men to die of disease-related illnesses three years after their diagnosis.
But what the heck makes these statistics so bad?
According to the Black AIDS Institute:
Black gay men's higher risk of HIV does not stem from higher levels of risk behavior. Rather, their disproportionate risk of HIV can be traced to their poor access to health services, a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and early patterns of sexual behavior among young gay men.
No one has responded to this health crisis with the urgency it warrants. Federal agencies don't even track HIV resources focused on Black gay men, and state and local governments badly under-prioritize prevention and treatment services for Black gay men. Neither Black America nor the LGBT community has made the fight against AIDS among Black gay men a priority. And only a handful of private foundations remain engaged in the AIDS fight.
… Due to the combined effects of poverty, unemployment, lack of health coverage, racism and homophobia, Black gay men face profound obstacles in obtaining basic health services.
Okay, so poor health care, cultural homophobia and outreach efforts are all to blame. But what can be done to reverse this deadly trend?
In short, the Black AIDS Institute says that all health, LGBT and black organizations need to coordinate campaigns that emphasize testing as a standard part of sexual health, increase the number of testing centers in black neighborhoods and help remove the social, legal, cultural and financial obstacles facing gay and bi black men who seek HIV education, testing and treatment.
The Black AIDS Institute also says that increasing access to antiretroviral treatment—such as Truvada—could the odds of HIV transmission by 96 percent, creating a huge step forward towards ending the epidemic not just among gay and bi black men, but for everybody.