Men who have sex with men (MSM) still make up the largest percentage of new HIV infections in the U.S. Despite the grass-roots effort to educate gay and bi men since the 1980’s, the number of new infections continues to rise. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the issue clear.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website…
The CDC estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (or 21%) don’t know they’re infected. Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in recent years, the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. However, that still means an estimated 56,300 new infections per year.
More than 18,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the US. Gay, bisexual, and other MSM are strongly affected and represent the majority of persons who have died. Gay, bisexual, and other MSM of all races remain the population most severely affected by HIV. Here are some facts you need to know:
MSM account for more than half (53%) of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year, as well as nearly half (48%) of people living with HIV.
While CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4% of the US male population aged 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the US is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.
White MSM account for the largest number of annual new HIV infections of any group in the US, followed closely by black MSM.
MSM is the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections have been increasing since the early 1990s.
What can you do?
The first thing you can do is get tested. Second, practice safer sex. I know we’re all tired of hearing this but clearly the message still needs to be broadcast loud and clear. There are any number of online resources that will help you to play safe and stay healthy. Just using a condom is only a small part of what you need to know. In addition to our own HIV Education page, you can go to any one of these links to educate yourself and to protect your health:
“A new online video channel is reaching out to teenagers who are bullied at school for being gay. The message: life really does get better after high school.
The YouTube channel, called the “It Gets Better Project,” was created by the Seattle advice columnist and activist Dan Savage. Mr. Savage says he was moved by the suicide of Billy Lucas, a Greensburg, Ind., high school student who was the target of slurs and bullying. The channel promises to be a collection of videos from adults in the gay community who share their own stories of surviving school bullying and moving on to build successful careers and happy home lives.”
Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health:
“The third annual National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sept. 27, 2010, marks an occasion to reflect on how profoundly HIV/AIDS has affected gay and bisexual men. It also is a fitting time to recognize how much this group has influenced the development and implementation of strategies to prevent and treat the virus and the disease. The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to exact a terrible toll on gay and bisexual men. In the United States it is estimated that since AIDS was first recognized in 1981, more than half a million gay and bisexual men have been diagnosed with the disease and more than 300,000 have died. Although men who have sex with men make up only about percent of the U.S. male population ages 13 years and older, sexual transmission of HIV from one man to another accounted for more than half of all new HIV diagnoses in 37 states in 2008. The epidemic is particularly acute among 13- to 29-year-old black males who have sex with other males: More new HIV infections occurred in this population in 2006 than in any other age or racial group of men who have sex with men.”
This bit of information was pointed out by a Facebook subscriber in Texas. One of the studies mentioned in the article is actually right here at the University of Pittsburgh – TheMicrobicides Trials Network. You can find out more about it under our “Get Involved in Research” tab.
As the article notes: “Subjects who used lubricants during anal sex were three times more likely to contract rectal sexually transmitted infections than those who had anal sex without lubricant, found UCLA researchers. This and one other study examining the effects of sexual lubricants used in anal sex were presented last month at the International Microbicides Conference.” The bottom line is two of the lubes tested were found to be nontoxic – Wet Platinum and PRÉ.
Nonoxynol-9 (or N-9) was created in the 1980’s as a spermicide—a method of contraception. The substance was also thought to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and it even killed HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) in test-tube studies. As a result, many gay and bisexual men who engaged in anal sex adopted the use of condoms and lubricants containing N-9 as a means to prevent HIV. Increased Risk for HIV Infection More recently, however, researchers have discovered N-9 can damage the lining cells of the rectum during anal sex, making a person more susceptible to contracting HIV.
What’s so troubling is that men who have sex with men are either unaware of this danger or don’t believe the danger actually exists. In fact, a study performed in San Francisco found that one quarter of respondents reported using lubricants containing N-9 despite repeated warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to not use N-9 when engaging in anal intercourse. What Can You Do? Don’t use lubricants, condoms, or any other product that contains N-9. If the package says “spermicidal lubricant” on the box avoid it! The best way to prevent HIV infection when engaging in anal intercourse is to use latex condoms and water-based lubricants. To learn more about N-9, you can go to this informative page on About.com.
The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, creates a public service announcement (PSA) targeted at LGBTQ youth.
The PSA features Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the “Harry Potter” film series, Broadway’s “Equus.”