On the eve of the International AIDS Conference being held in Washington, D.C., next week, a new report released from the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) has found that African-American gay and bisexual men are bearing the brunt of this epidemic here in the U.S.
Phill Wilson, the founder and executive director of BAI, told CNN.com, "Black MSM [men who have sex with men] continue to be first in line when it comes to need, but remain at the back of the line when it comes to assistance." He added, "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."
According to the report, Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America:
—Black men are two times more likely than their white gay counterparts to test positive. Yet, they are seven times more likely to be HIV-positive and not know it.
—Gay and bisexual African-American men are far less likely to be alive three years after receiving an AIDS diagnosis compared to their Latino and white counterparts.
—A Black gay man has a one-in-four chance of becoming infected by the time he's 25 and has a 60 percent chance of becoming infected by the time he is 40.
—Despite the fact that Black gay and bisexual men are more likely to take precautions to prevent HIV, their numbers continue to rise.
Wilson hopes this report will bring about change in the current approaches aimed at Black men who have sex with men. Writes CNN:
The Black AIDS Institute is calling for more testing, a scale-up of antiretroviral therapy, a plan to combat homophobia, and the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (also known as PrEP) where the uninfected partner of someone with HIV gets on drug therapy as well. Recent studies show that PrEP can lower the rate of HIV transmission up to 96%. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug Truvada for this use.
BAI is also calling for the implementation of a national plan to end AIDS in African-American gay and bisexual men.
It's important to remember that while this report sheds light on gay and bisexual men, that does not mean that AIDS is merely a gay disease. This epidemic impacts all African-Americans including heterosexual women and men.
BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Courtesy of blackaids.org)