As World AIDS day is upon us, the CDC has released the alarming statistics concerning HIV / AIDS and men of color. As usual with all the numbers, it begins to look mesmerizing like the screen in the Matrix, but I will still put the figures out there to see if you can wrap your head around them with amazement and sorrow.
Worldwide, the estimated number of people living with HIV is more than 33 million. In the United States, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV or AIDS infection, and 1 in 5 of those is unaware of they are infected. The CDC estimates that approximately 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year.
According to the CDC, in the southeast United Stated, the epidemic is growing faster than in any other region in the country. African-Americans constitute 12-14% of the population in the United States but account for approximately 45% of those newly infected with HIV. Some of the South’s biggest cities topped the CDC’s list of diagnosis rates in 2008: Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Tennessee, Orlando, New Orleans, Charlotte, and North Carolina.
Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) of all races and ethnicities remain the population most severely affected by HIV. However, young black MSM were the only risk group in the US to experience statistically significant increases in new HIV infections from 2006–2009. Statically as it stands right now, at some point in their life, approximately 1 in 16 black men will be diagnosed with an HIV infection. In 2009, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black men was 6.5 times as high as that of white men, and more than 2.5 times as high as that of Latino men and of black women. The total infection number was about 10,800 black MSM men for year ending 2009.
Also Latinos represented 16% of the population but accounted for 20% of new HIV infections in 2009. In 2009, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among Latino men was 2.5 times that of white men.
Black men who have sex with men are a particularly high risk group, with black gay males accounting for 22% of all new infections in the US according to the CDC data.
Also, more than a third of young black homosexual men are infected with HIV, more than twice the level seen in white gay men. Surveys suggest a full 60% of black gay men living with HIV do not know they are HIV positive.
By Gender and Race/Ethnicity
First, how in the hell do you not know your HIV status? There is no excuse for this. Most cities and states offer free HIV testing, especially in large urban areas. So there is no reason why you can’t get tested and know your HIV status.Second, the HIV increase in young MSM men of color is staggering and alarming. Has the gay community’s attitude about HIV / AIDS changed because of the life expectancy has increased due to the effectiveness of HIV drugs? Do some feel like “well I don’t care if I get it because they have drugs now that will allow me to live a normal life?”
Even if this is the attitude, do they not realize they will have to take these drugs everyday for the rest of their life AND these drugs will cost well over $300,000 through out your life time? What if the prices increase or you don’t have any medical insurance to help with these costs?
Also keep in mind that only half of people with HIV receive proper care and only 28% have their virus under control.
I even read an article that some HIV “negative” men are taking some of these drugs before they have bareback encounters as a preventative way to keep them from contracting HIV. Damn…Is wearing a condom that big of a deal? Why do people of color continue to have (year after year) the highest rates of infection? What is it that is preventing us from getting a handle on this epidemic?
Do the young homosexual men of color have an invincibility complex? Do we older homosexual men of color think so little of ourselves? Do we all not value ourselves enough that we are willing to sacrifice our health in pursuit of a busting nut? Again sadly, the answer may be yes.