JoeMyGod just put up a startling post about a 33% increase of HIV/AIDS infection amongst gay men in the last five years and almost DOUBLE the cases in men between 13-19. I've long since blamed the gay community for pushing the issue under a rug after the invention of Protease Inhibitor drugs- that is my theory. My theory is that once men started living healthy HIV+ lives and the physical side-effects (lypodystrophy, distended belly , etc) of medicines declined, gay men, in fear of offending those healthy but positive, stopped speaking so outwardly about the topic and pushed the issue under a rug of safe-sex education and condom give-aways. Unfortunately, this doesn't work. Young people are coming out at younger and younger ages and they need to know the dangers of the world in which they are about to enter. We need to speak about this issue, we need to embed within the young mind education on self-worth and having the right to discuss status and not be worried about offending people. Also, activism needs to be reinvented. The old screaming and sign-waving, while still effective, does not reach the young community. We have to keep up with the cell phones, the myspace, and current media in order to reach them. Check out this PSA which I wrote, produced and directed. It's something that GMHC told me is a fear campaign but I believe it's reality. It seems to resonate loudly with both the young and old generations.
I am going to do something about this. I'm not sure what, yet. But I promise you I will not let this go without a fight!
Young men who have sex with men are contracting HIV at a rate 33% higher than five years ago, according to recent figures released by the NYC Health Department. For men who have sex with men (MSM), the under 30 age group experienced almost 500 reported new cases of HIV last year, versus 374 in 2001.
Perhaps even more frightening, cases among MSM in the 13-19 age group doubled. Black and Hispanic men contracted HIV at a rate much higher than whites, double for blacks and more than 50% more for Hispanics. More than 90% of new HIV cases among MSM under 20 were black or Hispanic. One tiny bit of good news: the annual number of new cases in older MSM declined by 22%. In Manhattan, the new cases are centered in East and Central Harlem, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen.
Debra Frasier-Howe, president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, called the latest numbers "devastating." Frasier-Howe pleads, "We must ask all New Yorkers to accept some responsibility for helping our young people protect themselves. Their lives are not dispensable."
NYC is now distributing more than 3 million free condoms a month. Every gay hook-up site promotes safer sex, usually on their main page. Every bar and nightclub has a bucket of free condoms by the door, usually near a stack of safer sex brochures. We have subway ads, bus shelter ads, public service announcements on television and radio. The black churches have come miles in their stance about MSM. Nothing is working. Society is evolving too slowly to save these kids. Of course, the advances in HIV therapy are somewhat at play in making HIV less feared, but somebody has GOT to come up with a new idea.