THE COLOR OF DISEASE

HIV Affects Young, Gay/Bi, Black Men The Most. Would People Care More If They Were White?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published their new report Wednesday, Aug. 3, on the rate of new HIV infections in America. Overall, the rate remained relatively stable with about 50,000 new cases a year. But the rate among young Black gay and bisexual men rose about 48% between 2006 and 2009.

Please stop and think about this: Young Black gay and bisexual men are becoming infected with HIV at “alarming” rates every year in America – EVERY YEAR – and for some reason there does not appear to be the collective will to intervene and DO SOMETHING! The CDC sounds the alarm, AIDS activists sound the alarm, various responsible news outlets sound the alarm – but the alarm seems to be falling on deaf ears. It feels very much like the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, as documented by Rand Shilts in And the Band Played On when gays were sounding the alarm, screaming from the rooftops – but society and the Reagan administration did nothing – though they sprang into action over the Legionnaires outbreak. Black gay AIDS activist Phill Wilson, who’s been HIV positive since the early/mid-80s, got it right when he said about AIDS in Black America in 2006: β€œIf these were white college students with 50% infection rates, this would be on the news every night. But it’s poor black men and women, so nobody cares.”

Today, there is more information about HIV/AIDS than ever before and there are new treatments available – but the CDC still says it doesn’t know why these infection rates are so high. Or, really, what to do about it – something they’ve said repeatedly, using the same language each year in their press releases. Given the economy, they announced they’re now going to target specific communities with the money they’ve been allocated.

Karen Ocamb writing about the recent report from the Center for Disease Control revealing 51 percent of all HIV infections among blacks occur among men who have sex with men (MSM). Regardless of race, MSM ages 13-29 accounted for 27 percent of all new infections in 2009.

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