from The NY Blade
After announcing last month that the annual number of HIV infections in the U.S. is 40 percent higher than previously thought, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention confirmed this morning in a conference call with reporters that young black gay and bisexual men are the population seeing the highest rates of new HIV infections.
Kevin Fenton, director of HIV/AIDS division at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, called new HIV incidence data about black gay men ‘alarming.’ (Photo courtesy CDC) Of the more than 56,000 Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2006, 72 percent were gay and bisexual men; of those men, 46 percent were white, 35 percent were black and 19 percent were Latino.
But CDC officials announced “there were more new HIV infections in young black [gay and bisexual] men aged 13-29 than any other age or racial group” of gay men.
Kevin Fenton, director of HIV/AIDS division at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, called new HIV incidence data about black gay men “alarming,” while black gay activists again criticized the CDC for long ignoring the group most affected by HIV.
Fenton again noted that some 80 percent of black gay and bisexual men have never come in contact with a CDC-approved HIV-prevention intervention.
The CDC currently has 18 interventions for HIV prevention, but only two of those programs specifically target black gay men.
So why do we continue to see the number of new HIV infections increase in black gay men? Many will tell you it's because we suffer from low self-esteem or we simply just don't care anymore. HIV/AIDS has become a manageable condition and many believe the HIV prevention ads are misleading because they show people who look healthy and are leading relatively normal lives. Well if people want to retreat to the images of HIV/AIDS from the pre -combination therapy days in order to scare black gay men into using condoms regularly it won't work. But I'll appease everyone.
The truth of the matter is we're in the middle of a crisis and it's not new. Nobody is coming to save us, not the black community, not the church, and definitely not the repugnant Bush administration! Why are we waiting on someone else to step up to the plate and save us when we can do it ourselves? The white gay community did it with ACT UP . They strategized and mobilized their people into action because they saw their friends and family die. Maybe their is a disconnect because my generation doesn't know what it's like to bury a loved one on a weekly basis from AIDS. But make no mistake about it in 2008 either you're INFECTED or AFFECTED by this disease.
The truth of the matter is people are still DYING from this disease in the age of successful treatment. And more times than not those who do die an early death are African-American. So contrary to whatever ads you may have seen on a billboard or in a magazine living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 can still be an uphill battle. Drug adherance and resistance are real issues for people living with HIV/AIDS. So choose life and if you engage in sexual activity use a condom every time.
The ads did get one thing right. Life doesn't end with a positive diagnosis but I'm sure it doesn't get any easier. Why put yourself at risk to live with it when you can easily live without it?
Take a look into the life of my friend Justin B. Smith as he shares his journey living with HIV.