HIDE AND SEEK

What’s Causing the Sharp Rise In Black Gay HIV Rates?

When the Center for Disease Control revealed that HIV infection rates among young black gay and bisexual men rose nearly 50% from 2006 to 2009, Frontiers editor Karen Ocamb wondered if no one cared because these men weren’t white.

But the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus asked a different question: What is causing the rise infection rates in the first place? (Y’know, besides actual sex.)

The CBGMC recently hosted a meeting where a group of about 75 health professionals, city officials, school teachers and activists gathered to discuss possible causes behind the raise of HIV among young gay black men and came up with some of the following ideas:

– A lack of public sexual health clinics, funding for those clinics, and training on how to sensitively engage someone who may be sensitive about their HIV status.

– Many HIV+ people don’t take their medication as prescribed or don’t have access to meds because of unemployment or lack of accessible care.

– Poor sexual education in public schools and very little neighborhood awareness about how to prevent the spread of HIV.

– Churches that promulgate homophobia.

Chris Brown, assistant commissioner of Public Health for the STI/HIV/AIDS Division of Chicago said he’ll create a citizen-based commission to continue generating ideas, but it seems that no matter what that schools and churches will have to become part of the solution. Shifting American thought towards a more sex-responsible culture is a task in and of itself.