Very disturbing news. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has impacted Black gay and bisexual men in the United States on a scale "unseen among any other" demographic" in the developed world, according to a new report from the Black AIDS Institute issued on the eve of the 19th International AIDS Conference.
The crisis is so severe in some American cities that "one in two Black men who have sex with other men are HIV positive," according to the new report "Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America."
Black MSM account for 1 in 500 Americans, but represent nearly 1 in 4 new HIV infections. Black MSM are also significantly less likely to be alive three years after being diagnosed with AIDS than are white or Latino MSM. By the age of 25, Black gay men have a 1 in 4 chance of becoming infected with HIV.
The Black AIDS Institute also ranked 25 cities to determine which address the HIV-related needs of Black MSM most effectively, and which do not. Among the best are Washington, DC; New York, NY; and Los Angeles, CA. Gary, IN tops the worst city list followed by Memphis, TN and Richmond, VA.
"Black MSM continue to be first in line when it comes to need, but remain at the back of the line when it comes to assistance," said Phill Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. "This report not only highlights the gaps and why they still exist after 30 years, but it also provides a blueprint for how to close the gaps and move those most at risk up to the front."
HIV/AIDS rates are rising the fastest among Black and Black gay/bi men in the South and Southeast, according to recent data. Those states are predominately poorer than the rest of the country—and the state governments are overwhelmingly Republican and against expanding health care access.
Wilson attributed part of the problem to the black community's slow response in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, when it was already wrestling with poverty, unemployment and the spread of crack cocaine.
Wilson also faulted mainstream gay rights groups for putting the HIV-AIDS crisis on the back burner, now that it is no longer a pressing issue for affluent gays in big cities whose bigger concern today is marriage equality. "There are almost no national LGBT organizations today that give a rat's ass about the lives of black gay men as they are impacted by HIV-AIDS, and that's disgraceful," he said.
The epicenter of the domestic HIV epidemic remains in Black America. Blacks represent only 12% of the nation’s population but account for 44% of all new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Controls.
There has been a soaring number of seroconversions among Black men who have sex with men. The trend has been particularly “alarming” among Black MSM aged 13 to 19, according to the CDC. New infections have increased by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009. Black poz MSM are also least likely to be aware of their status—59 percent unaware vs. 26 percent for white MSM. The numbers for positive younger Black MSM are even more startling: 71 percent are unaware of their infection.
See our recent series "Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase Among Black Gay Men Part 1" and "Part 2", as well as "What Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Could Mean for Black Gay and Bi Men" and "Clinical Trials Show PrEP Reduces Heterosexual HIV Transmission" that were syndicated by the Black AIDS Institute across Black print and web properties.
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