BLACK GAY US MEN NEGLECTED IN AIDS BATTLE

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An alarming new report says that nearly one in four young black gay men in America will become infected with HIV and that the problem is getting worse.

The latest report by the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men In America 2012, reveals that HIV is “a lifelong threat for black gay men”.

The organisation says that while this group represents a mere 1 in 500 people living in the US, “a young Black gay man has a roughly 1-in-4 chance of being infected by age 25”.

In addition, “by the time he is 40 years old, the odds a black gay men will be living with HIV is roughly 60%. One can scour the entire world and struggle to find a population more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than Black gay in the US”.

The problem is only getting worse, warns the BAI, with new infections among black gay men rapidly rising.

“Although black gay men have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the epidemic first appeared in the early 1980s, the country has yet to mount a meaningful response to this crisis,” said the BAI.

The organisation reports that the disproportionately higher risk of HIV infection among black gay men does not stem from higher levels of risk behaviour but to their poor access to health services, a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and early patterns of sexual behaviour among young gay men.

“No one has responded to this health crisis with the urgency it warrants. Federal agencies don’t even track HIV resources focused on black gay men, and state and local governments badly under-prioritise prevention and treatment services for black gay men,” said the BAI.

“Neither black America nor the LGBT community has made the fight against AIDS among black gay men a priority. And only a handful of private foundations remain engaged in the AIDS fight.”

While there is hope that antiretroviral treatment is reducing the odds of HIV transmission, black gay men are unlikely to benefit from new biomedical tools to prevent HIV transmission and AIDS deaths.

“Due to the combined effects of poverty, unemployment, lack of health coverage, racism and homophobia, black gay men face profound obstacles in obtaining basic health services,” said the organisation, calling for an immediate action plan to be put into place.

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