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Black AIDS Institute Says Gay Men Of Color In US At Greater Risk Than Whole World
By Nathan James
A frightening report released today by the Black AIDS Institute says gay American men of color have a far greater risk of contracting the HIV virus than people living anywhere else on Earth. The bulletin, entitled Back Of The Line: The State Of AIDS Among Black Gay Men In America discusses a three-year study of infection rates for gay men of all races and ethnicities in the United States.
Covering the years 2007-2010, the study made the shocking discovery that infection rates among black gay men and teens aged 13-24 far exceeded those of other groups. ”A young Black gay man has a roughly one in four chance of being infected by age 25,” the report stated. ”By the time he is 40, the odds a Black gay man will be living with HIV is 60%”.
Coupled with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) findings that 46% of gay men of color are HIV-positive–and that roughly a third of those are unaware of their status–this new report has sent shock waves through the LGBT community of color. Speaking to GBM News, Dr. Sheldon Green, a former ER physician specializing in HIV diagnosis and treatment, characterized the Black AIDS Institute study as a “dirge for the Black gay community.”
Dr, Green said the findings were “The most terrifying I’ve seen in my 26 years of clinical practice.” The Institute further stated, “Black gay men’s higher risk of HIV dies not stem from higher levels of risk behavior.” Instead, the report cited lack of access to health care, a hetero-normative hospital system, societal homophobia, and a high prevalence of other sexually-transmitted diseases (STD’s) in the Black community.
Although new treatments are showing promise–the FDA this week approved the use of an existing HIV medication, Truvada, as a preventative after years of research–such measures are often prohibitively expensive for Black gay patients or those seeking to do pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Former New York City Health Commissioner–and current CDC director–Dr. Thomas Frieden, reiterated the desperate need for better healthcare access, pointing sharply towards the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform legislation, but cautioned “these laws and programs will take years to implement”.
The Institute report comes just before the annual International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC next week.