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As HIV Prevention Money Shrinks, Who Will Save Young Gay Men of Color?

August 15, 2013

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Dr. Perry N. Halkitis -- Director, Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies, NYU

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 2:01.

In describing a recent study done with 600 young gay men of color who are at least 18 years old, Dr. Halkitis gave some of the data on the seroconversion rates of the participants, 70 percent of which were men of color:

There are some statistics that are particularly troubling to me from this study. In our study so far, all of the men when they started out had to be HIV negative, and we've been following them every six months, we test them every six months, and we assess their behaviors. And what we have found is, over the course of the last four years, that 6.2 percent -- we have a 6.2 percent infection rate. 6.2 percent of the men seroconverted during the course of this study. However, when you look at it broken down by race, the numbers are as follows: mixed race men -- 4.5 percent, Latino men -- 7 percent, white men -- .5 percent, and African American or black men -- 21.3 percent. That is an enormous disparity that tells us something about where this epidemic is lodged and speaks to us that this epidemic is more than just about a biological event.

Dr. Blayne Cutler -- Director, Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 8:30.

When describing next steps for the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Cutler said:

We look forward to continuing our partnership with GMHC, even during these very challenging fiscal times, to do what we can with whatever resources we do have. Do I expect that things might get even worse? I have to say that I absolutely do. But that has never stopped us in New York City before, and it's not going to stop us now.

Carl Siciliano -- Executive Director, Ali Forney Center

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

If you want to follow along with the text, begin watching the video at 2:16.

On the major failure of U.S. HIV prevention strategies for homeless LGBT youth, Carl Siciliano said:

So, obviously, HIV prevention is failing to work with homeless LGBT youth. So, I think the reason that it is failing to work is painfully obvious. And, it enrages me that the answer hasn't been incorporated into HIV prevention strategies. So, in the United States, last year, the conservative estimate is that 500,000 young people experienced homelessness. 500,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 experienced homelessness as unaccompanied minors, meaning they were on their own, they were not with their families. Somewhere between 20 to 40 percent of those are LGBT. So, up to 200,000 homeless LGBT youth in the country. And that's a conservative estimate. In the entire country, all of the homeless youth services only have the capacity to care for, on any level, 50,000 of those young people. So, 1 out of 10 homeless young people is able to be cared for on any level, and far fewer of those young people are able to access shelter.

We see the same thing in New York City. In New York City, the most recent survey done by the New York City Council in 2008 found that there were 3,800 homeless youth and about 1,600 of them were LGBT-identified. New York City provides 250 youth shelter beds. So, again there are more than ten times as many youth who can't access shelter than there are beds. Now, when a young person is homeless and doesn't have anywhere safe to stay -- they're hungry, they're cold, they're destitute -- they do what they have to do to survive. And studies show that youth who do not have shelter within three days, the majority of them will turn to prostitution in order to survive. Ninety percent of the young people in this country, according to a study cited in the New York Times last year, who were engaged in prostitution said that one of the biggest barriers to them getting out of prostitution was that they didn't have a place to stay.

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This article was provided by TheBody.


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