June 13, 2013
HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease, and the virus works the same whether you're gay or straight. That said, if you are gay -- or if you're a man who considers himself straight, but fools around with guys from time to time -- there's a lot of information out there that's going to be more relevant to you than if you're a straight guy who only sleeps with women (or doesn't sleep with anyone at all).
TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Gay Men is a great starting point if you're looking for basic information, personal stories and thoughtful perspectives. If you'd like to dive in deeper, take a look at some of what this resource center has to offer.
Take a deep breath. Don't hang your head. Reach out for support. You're not alone.
Over the years on TheBody.com, dozens of gay men living with HIV/AIDS, or working in the HIV/AIDS field, have shared their experiences and advice with those who may have just gotten their diagnosis. Check out the links below for samplings of wisdom from a diverse range of men in our community.
TheBody.com also has a Resource Center for People Newly Diagnosed With HIV/AIDS, where you'll find basic information about HIV, your health, and next steps -- along with even more stories and advice from people who've been there.
More than a million people in the U.S. (and tens of millions more worldwide) are living with HIV, and many of them -- let's be honest, too many of them -- are gay men. Living with HIV is no walk in the park for plenty of reasons, but whether you've just been diagnosed, you're choosing your first HIV doctor or you're dealing with the long-term effects of HIV and its treatment, there are people out there who can relate to what you're going through and who can help you through it.
Sex and Dating
If you're a gay man with HIV, you can not only have safe and satisfying sex, but have a healthy attitude about it, too. That's true whether you're a sex pig or prefer to do it in more traditional ways, and it's true whether or not you decide it's worth the risk to have unprotected sex ("barebacking," "raw" sex, etc.). And did you know that there was an online dating and hookup site created with poz guys in mind?
On the flip side, some guys may at times find themselves in periods of celibacy -- sometimes voluntarily. Meanwhile, if you're an HIV-negative guy, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that any relationship you have with an HIV-positive dude is fun and fulfilling (in every way). (Be sure to check out the next slide for specifics!)
We've got plenty of articles and videos on sex and dating for gay men. Browse away and find out how other guys, poz and neg, have navigated the dating scene.
Can HIV Treatment Be Prevention?
Have you heard that taking HIV meds if you're positive actually reduces the chance of transmitting HIV to a negative partner? While the big, exciting study that proved this fact -- HPTN 052, if you're curious -- was done primarily in male-female couples, there's strong evidence that a similar effect occurs with positive gay men who are taking meds as directed. There are other strategies that involve HIV meds as prevention tools that have been studied in gay men.
Now, is it time to throw away the condoms? Absolutely not, say virtually all experts. But the number of tools in the prevention toolbox available to gay men is steadily growing.
(Credit: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières)
Statistics and Facts
In the U.S., men who have sex with men make up 2 percent of the population -- and 62 percent of all HIV diagnoses, according to a February 2013 report. Among gay African Americans, the numbers are even more stark. Even as HIV diagnoses are dropping among many groups in the U.S., they're on the rise among gay men, especially gay men under 25.
Young, Gay and Positive
In the U.S, a quarter of new cases of HIV occur in someone between the age of 13 and 24. Of those new cases, 70 percent are young gay or bisexual men. And of all the young people living with HIV in the U.S., three in five do not know they're positive, and therefore can't get on lifesaving treatment that can also prevent the spread of HIV.
There are myriad reasons for these numbers among youth, but one thing is certain: Something has got to change.
Many young LGBT folks living with HIV/AIDS realize this, and have told their stories to let other youth know that HIV/AIDS still exists, and it's still their problem, but it's not one they're powerless against.
Each of them is a gay or bisexual man living with HIV (some recently diagnosed, some veterans of the HIV community); all (and many more) are bloggers on TheBody.com. These impressive men are a testament to the strength -- a strength that lies within each of us -- to stand against stigma and overcome whatever obstacles life tosses in our way.
Stigma and Homophobia
"If gay and/or HIV-positive men felt supported in their families, at work, at school, at church, and on the street, they would be more likely to care about their health and the health of others." -- From "Stigma and Homophobia: Fueling the Fire" (From ACRIA and GMHC)
In an era where we have numerous tools to fight HIV, stigma and discrimination remain the most insidious barriers to slowing down and eventually stopping the epidemic. And HIV is by no means a gay disease, but it does disproportionately affect gay men -- largely because of the barriers to prevention, treatment and care that stigma and homophobia erect, whether explicitly in the world, in communities of gay men, or deep inside those affected.
Substance Use Among Gay Men
You've probably heard, or even experienced, what many studies have shown: Substance abuse of all kinds, and particularly methamphetamine abuse, is a major concern among gay and bisexual men compared to the general population.
If you're dealing with issues relating to substance use, know that you are not alone. Dozens of gay men living with HIV have shared stories on TheBody.com of struggling with -- and surviving -- substance abuse. And there are resources available if you need support.
HIV medications behave no differently in your body whether you're gay or not. However, some issues related to HIV treatment may impact gay men differently from other communities.