New HIV infections held steady at about 50,000 in 2010, the CDC reported last month, but new infections among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are up 12% from 2008 to 2010. MSM represented 64% of new infections in 2010 compared with 61% in 2009, even though MSM comprise only 2% of the adult population. New infections were up 22% from 2008 to 2010 among MSM age 13 to 24.
Despite the disproportionate burden of HIV among MSM, especially Black MSM, targeted HIV prevention is largely targeted toward heterosexuals and other risk groups, according to an analysis conducted by The Fenway Institute last year at the request of Funders Concerned About AIDS and amFAR.
That analysis found that:
- In a 2009 Wisconsin case study, among Blacks, male on male sex accounted for 58% of HIV diagnoses that year. Yet Black gay men only received 19% of targeted tests, and made up only 11% of HIV prevention clients.
- Only 27% of HIV education and risk reduction funding was targeted toward MSM, according to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control analysis; 38% was targeted toward high-risk heterosexuals, while 20% was not targeted or was targeted toward other risk groups.
- Only 16% of National Institutes of Health funding for HIV that was targeted to a specific risk group was allotted to MSM, according to a 2011 report by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
“The HIV epidemic is increasingly impacting gay and bisexual men, especially Black men and young men, despite new advances in treatment and prevention,” said Kenneth Mayer, MD, Medical Research Director and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute. “We must redouble our efforts to prevent HIV among gay men by shifting prevention funding to more closely match the incidence data.”
Many working in AIDS policy on the federal level are aware that prevention with MSM is underfunded and are working to change this. Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention for the past seven years, recently acknowledged that funding for prevention and research with gay men was “about half of what it should be.”
“Our own stigma, our own homophobia,” Fenton said, “cascades down in our funding and allocations, intentionally or unintentionally resulting in underfunding of gay men’s work across the country.” (Source, The Georgia Voice, March 30, 2012.)
The CDC recently launched new behavioral intervention programs aimed at Black gay men and transgender women. The CDC’s pro-HIV testing ads feature positive images of gay men of color. However, these don’t challenge the anti-gay prejudice that increases young gay men’s vulnerability to HIV and still discourages HIV testing in many communities. HIV is just one of many health disparities affecting gay youth. Many correlate with experiences of being bullied or socially isolated. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are at greater risk than their heterosexual peers of violence and victimization, self-harm, substance abuse, sexually risky behavior and school absences because they feel unsafe. There are a number of resiliency factors linked to lower rates of risk behavior among LGBT youth.
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