AIDS 2012 Notes: Stigma; Risk Perception; Turning the Tide
July 25, 2012
Ken Mayer (again?!?!) presented "Caring for the Whole Person." He talked about the effects of stigma and the need for comprehensive care. Although black MSM do not have higher risk behaviors than other groups, they tend to meet partners in high prevalence pools (other black MSM), which increases their risk of HIV infection. Safer sex, according to Dr. Mayer, is not just the absence of disease, but also a safe and pleasurable experience.
Dennis Altman went deeper into the issue of "Stigma and Discrimination." Just because homosexuality is not criminalized in the U.S., states can still persecute homosexuals. Legal change is important but not sufficient. He goes on to explain that the roots of homophobia stem from such various sources as religion, traditional gender power relations, and "political homophobia."
Gift Trapence from Malawi provided some historical perspective of the earliest responses to HIV by gay men in his presentation "From Personal Survival to Public Health: Gay and MSM Community Leadership in the HIV Response."
Greg Millet provided some interesting data in "HIV-related Disparities Among Black MSM and Associations With Structural Factors." Comparing black MSM to other MSM in the U.S. and U.K., even with comparable risk behavior, black men are three times more likely to be HIV-positive, 50% less likely to be on ART, 50% less likely to adhere to ART, and 50% less likely to have health insurance. Will newer biomedical interventions even be available/accessible to black MSM?
Black MSM in the U.S. are 8.5 times more likely to be HIV-positive than black populations worldwide and 15 times more likely to be HIV-positive than general populations. Risk behavior does not explain these HIV disparities. HIV criminalization is responsible for a two-fold increase in HIV infection in Caribbean and African MSM.
Chris Collins from AmFar ended the session with a "Call to Action for Comprehensive HIV Services for Men Who Have Sex With Men." Guess what he highlighted? Combination prevention! MSM need access to testing, treatment, condoms and lubricants, mental health, substance abuse interventions, and trained providers.
As if the 12-hour day wasn't enough, I headed down to the Global Village for Cornelius Jones' 7pm performance of excerpts from his one-man show "Shadows and Lights" [http://youtu.be/iSgRMUz1cHk]. I'm really glad I did. That brotha is talented... and deep.
Tomorrow is the day for Combination Prevention. After today, I hope I last ...
This article was provided by TheBody. It is a part of the publication The XIX International AIDS Conference.
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