Recently, the American government's health agency, the CDC, released some upsetting news about HIV trends. They reported that the majority of new cases in the United States are among young men who have sex with men. Additionally, the rate of new HIV infections is not on the decline. Rather, it is holding steady at about 55,000 new infections a year.
"Most new infections of white gay and bisexual men occur when the men are in their 30s and 40s, the study found, while black gay and bisexual men are more likely to be infected in their teens and 20s...In one of the most dismal statistics provided by the centers, researchers said that 80 percent of gay and bisexual men in 15 cities had not been reached by intensive H.I.V. prevention efforts that have proven effective. Agency officials said that more must be done, including expanded H.I.V. screening programs and better directing of prevention efforts at those most at risk."
So why isn't crucial knowledge reaching everyone who needs it? There are a few reasons:
- Not all men who have sex with men are part of the gay community, or even identify as gay. As a result, messages geared towards gay men probably won't reach them.
- Many people mistakenly think the AIDS crisis is over.
- Mixing sex and substances can result in risky behavior.
- People with low self-esteem don't always feel confident enough to insist on condom use during sex.
- Many people don't know how the virus is transmitted.
This is an upsetting situation. And at a time when we have never known more about HIV/AIDS, it is also an unacceptable one. HIV is not someone else's problem. If you've had unprotected sex (including oral), do yourself and your partners a favor, educate yourself about the infection, and get tested.