Statistics surrounding HIV in our community can be depressing but education and awareness is the best way to combat the information. Over the past few years, data has shown a shift in new HIV cases for black gay men. A few years ago, there was a heavy concentration of new cases on the east coast with cities like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. leading the way. Now research is highlighting a new trend- and how the south is starting battle the epidemic.
International Business Times reports:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, African-Americans represented only 14% of the US population but accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections in 2009. Black men who have sex with men, or black MSM (a term researchers use to account for the fact that many in this group do not self-identify as homosexual) accounted for 73% of new infections among all black men.
HIV infections among young black MSM aged 13 to 29 increased by 48 percent from 2006 to 2009. During that same time, the estimated diagnosis rate remained relatively stable, at 17.4 HIV diagnoses per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
Ironically, a lack of fear may also be contributing to the problem. Kevin Fenton, the director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, told the Black AIDS Institute that the agency is seeing increases in risk behavior in many MSM communities, including being less vigilant about safer sex.
“In part, these changes are occurring because we are 30 years into the epidemic, perhaps leading to a certain complacency about HIV, a lack of urgency, a lack of fear about the seriousness of the disease, or ignorance about the epidemic and its impact,” Fenton said in the report.
AIDS also tends to disproportionately affect people in the Southern U.S., where over 50 percent of new HIV infections in the country occur.
In a 74-page report, Back of the Line: The State of Aids Among Black Gay Men in America conveys that black gay and bisexual men make up one in 500 Americans overall, but account for one in four new HIV infections in the United States. Black gay and bisexual men are seven times more likely to have undiagnosed HIV. Lack of advocacy must change if we want to combat the disease. Outside of going to get tested, be sure to participate in healthy conversations with your friends.
“Black gay and bisexual men are still being devastated by HIV and AIDS,” said Phil Wilson, whose Los Angeles-based organization counts the prestigious Ford Foundation and the Elton John Aids Foundation among its funding sources. ”The AIDS epidemic is not over in that population. Quite frankly, it is the worst epidemic in all the developed world, and an epidemic that rivals much of the developing world.”
What do you think we can do in our community to decrease these statistics? Share your ideas and thoughts with us below. Speak out!