What About the Boys? Young Men at Risk

On Wednesday the CDC finally released data it had long held internally that demonstrates an alarming increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases among young African-American men who have sex with men (MSM).

No one seems to know why it took more than a year for the data analysis to become public — the data itself is now three years old — or why it was released by email as a "slide set" with little fanfare or press attention.

What the analysis shows, however, should be cause for great alarm.

CDC HIV/AIDS Update: New Surveillance Slide Set on Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) reports that of the almost one million AIDS cases reported through 2005, 81 percent were in males.

Perhaps the reason the Administration delayed the release of the data is because the majority of AIDS cases among men can be attributed to male-to-male contact (59 percent). In fact, from 2001 to 2005, the number of HIV/AIDS cases increased among adult and adolescent men who have sex with men (MSM) in all age groups. The largest proportional increase occurred among MSM ages 13-24, with young African American/black MSM in this age category suffering the largest increase — up almost 80 percent from 2001 to 2005!

Is homophobia fueling an irrational and dangerous response to a public health epidemic that has plagued us for more than 25 years? I wouldn't be surprised. After all this is the administration that has poured more than $1 billion into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs-programs that at their best ignore the existence of gay youth and at their worst demonize homosexuality.

Isn't it time we demanded a rational and more urgent public health response to an epidemic that has killed so many? Young men who have sex with men are becoming infected with HIV at an alarming rate. They need information. They need services. They have the right to respect and acceptance.

Until honest education and access to services become common, the lion's share of the blame for the increase in HIV/AIDS among young MSM will continue to rest squarely with the President who has championed failed abstinence-only programs, the legislators that have funded them, and all those who perpetuate or tolerate homophobia.

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  • don-warner-saklad

    A thought experiment…

    the strategy of let's get tested TOGETHER BEFORE we have sex,

    for A VARIETY of STDs.


    A sexual health checkup reduces ambiguity and can be

    like anything else that potential sex partners do together



  • http://www.bbarash.com invalid-0

    Hello –
    I am an independent documentary maker in Atlanta, Georgia with long years of experience as medical and science news producer at CNN.

    I wanted to let you know of my new work, a feature-length documentary called The AIDS Chronicles – Here to Represent.

    The AIDS Chronicles – Here to Represent is a unique look at the social and cultural impact of HIV/AIDS on the urban African American population, with Atlanta as the representative city.

    This work is told through the actions and thoughts of those who are infected or affected by the disease and the comments of African American health experts who dispel the myths and reveal the facts about HIV/AIDS.

    It includes segments on:
    African American women and HIV/AIDS
    Black Gay Men
    The Churches
    The convergence of poverty, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS

    Some of the most important social and cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS in the adult African American urban population are covered in very real, personal, balanced and accurate scenes. And the African American experts who comment, including Phill Wilson (Black AIDS Institute), Mindy Fullilove, MD (Columbia University), David Malebranche, MD (Emory University/Grady Hospital & The President’s Commission on HIV/AIDS) and Bill Jenkins, Ph.D (Morehouse College Center on Health Disparities) do no hold back on their assessment of the current situation and the basic preventive actions necessary.

    You can see more about this work on my website http://www.bbarash.com

    Watch excerpts on YouTube



    Please let me know if you have questions about this film.

    Bailey Barash