U.S.: HIV Remains a Gay Disease
September 24, 2010
"Monday is National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day (NGMHAD), a new addition to the growing list of CDC-sponsored efforts to draw attention to the disproportionate toll this disease takes on certain high-risk populations.
"As highlighted in the recent National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the plight of gay and bisexual men has taken a turn for the worse over the past decade. Nationally, [men who have sex with men] are 44 to 86 times more likely to be infected with HIV than their heterosexual counterparts. For whatever reason, HIV/AIDS continues to remain an undeniably 'gay disease,' begging the question: How have we backslid so terribly in preventing its spread?
"Today we find a new generation of gay men that never endured the fear and suffering of those who lived and died only decades before them. They never attended weekly funerals or had their social circles decimated overnight.
"In recognition of NGMHAD, following are four important, and often-overlooked, facts that all gay men should know about this disease and the new epidemic we now face.
"Newly infected individuals are both most infectious and unlikely to test positive for the virus: In a perverse twist of fortune, until newly infected people seroconvert, they will continue to falsely test negative for HIV while also being at the greatest risk of transmitting the virus to someone else.
"The advent of [post-exposure prophylaxis]. If you believe you've been exposed to HIV (i.e., condom breaks), go to the nearest clinic or department of health to begin PEP within three days.
"The importance of routine testing. Despite drastic changes to the CDC HIV testing guidelines in 2006, many physicians still refuse to implement such proven cost-effective approaches. Ask your primary care physician to routinely offer the test.
"Taking action against HIV: For the younger generation of gay men, it's an accident of history that we are living in 2010, instead of 1980. If that were the case, well over half of us would be dead or dying within the next few years. We're lucky. Conversely, if you endured those years unscathed, you know what it was like. So please share your story with the next generation of gay men. They need to hear it. And perhaps, you may motivate all of us to take action. One great way to help is by volunteering for an HIV vaccine research study at one of the many [National Institutes of Health]-sponsored sites throughout the country. Go to www.hopetakesaction.org to get involved."
The author chairs the D.C. Center's HIV Prevention Working Group. Visit www.fighthivindc.org.
09.23.2010; Daniel O'Neill
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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