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NYC Releases Sobering Report on Young Gay Men and HIV

A new report out of New York City reveals a disturbing trend among men under 30 fueled by several factors - an optimism that AIDS is readily treatable, high rates of drug use, and a stigmatization young men feel about disclosing their HIV status.

CondomThe NYT reports:

"The number of new H.I.V. infections in men under 30 who have sex with men has increased sharply in New York City in the last five years, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, even as AIDS deaths and overall H.I.V. infection rates in the city have steadily declined. New figures from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that the annual number of new infections among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men rose 34 percent between 2001 and 2006, and rose for all men under 30 who have sex with men by 32 percent. At a time when the number of new cases among older gay men is dropping — by 22 percent in New York City during the same period — AIDS experts are bearing down on what they say is a worrisome and perplexing growth of H.I.V. infection among young men..."

There's at least one very clear reason for the disparity between age groups and infection. Said NYC health commissioner, Thomas R. Frieden: "People who grew up watching their friends die of AIDS are a lot more careful than those who didn’t."

There's also a sense of inevitability, according to outreach worker Lynonell Edmonds, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, because that community has been so hard hit. Said Edmonds: "A lot of guys say, 'I’m going to get it anyway. I call it, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.' People are not asking — it’s like it’s an offensive question."

New H.I.V. Cases Drop but Rise in Young Gay Men [nyt]

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  1. "But the burden of the responsibility to have the discussion of HIV status should not fall solely on the shoulders of a person simply because they happen to have, or not have HIV."

    PeterParker: I agree that people should bring up the issue of HIV status regardless of their own status or the presumed status of their sexual partner(s). But disclosing poz status is something that is the burden solely of those who are poz - whether that disclosure occurs in the context of a mutually initiated discussion of HIV status or not.

    I think it's too easy for people to interpret your words as a 50/50 bargain: "If he doesn't ask then I'm not wrong for not telling." And I've know people who give that exact rationalization. The burden of telling every sexual partner you are HIV-positive must be both enormous and daunting - so much so that I fear giving any rhetorical wiggle-room for people to shirk that responsibility.

    Posted by: Kipp | Jan 2, 2008 4:47:36 PM

  2. I should add that I was originally merely taking issue with phrasing of the article synopsis - not criticising the article because it didn't just blame dishonest poz men.

    If people think seroconversion is inevitable, or that their status isn't important because of low self-esteem or "ease" of treatment, then no amount of honest disclosure is going to help.

    I just have a problem with preventation literature that seems to suggest that the disclosure of one's poz-status is somehow a shared responsiblity.

    Posted by: Kipp | Jan 2, 2008 5:03:49 PM

  3. The New York Times is doing its best to associate AIDS with gays. What about straights? Straights are just as prone to it. The New York Times needs to stop demonizing gay men.

    Posted by: jose | Jan 2, 2008 5:10:43 PM

  4. "To call anyone that has sex without a condom an idiot and a fool is ridiculously arrogant. No wonder there is such a stigma associated with infection. I don't think anyone that caught HIV from unprotected sex is going to claim they acted responsibly. So instead of acting like preachy assholes and calling people who never asked for infection names..."

    Jake, you misunderstood. In this day and age with what we know now, fucking without a condom isn't an option. I'm not condemning people who have been infected, I'm saying that anyone who fucks without a condom is an idiot and a fool, knowing what we know. Certainly you can understand that?

    Posted by: Webster | Jan 2, 2008 5:35:49 PM

  5. Jose, a recent study showed that the New York Times devoted *MORE* articles to gay subjects, gay rights issues, etc, than any other newspaper worldwide. Its Opinion pages routinely favor the advance of gay rights and gay marriage; they are not at all demonizing gay men.

    They've also published other stories on the HIV infection rates among straight Americans, sex workers in Africa, and countless others.

    The New York Times should be highly COMMENDED for running this story. It could save people's lives, and that is very much in the interests of gay people.

    - GMB

    Posted by: GMB | Jan 2, 2008 5:53:32 PM

  6. "Jake, you misunderstood. In this day and age with what we know now, fucking without a condom isn't an option. I'm not condemning people who have been infected, I'm saying that anyone who fucks without a condom is an idiot and a fool, knowing what we know. Certainly you can understand that?"

    I just can't agree with you Webster. I agree, people should take the necessary steps to protect themselves from this virus but when it comes to sex, people are going to do what we naturally do, and that's get the full experience sex can provide. Condoms put a cap on both physical and psychological sensations, that we know. Anyone who says differently can't and shouldn't speak for the rest of us.

    So is a person who discards condoms an idiot? No. Their just fucking like humans fuck. But at the same time, there's a horrible virus out there that could consume their lives.

    Its all more complicated than it seems. My advice is for gay men to try and build a community more inviting and fulfilling than what it is now.

    Posted by: Dayton | Jan 2, 2008 6:07:58 PM

  7. This is the best damn thread! I heart this website!

    Posted by: daniel | Jan 2, 2008 7:41:00 PM

  8. This is the best damn thread! I heart this website!

    Posted by: daniel | Jan 2, 2008 7:41:33 PM

  9. This is the best damn thread! I heart this website!

    Posted by: daniel | Jan 2, 2008 7:42:49 PM

  10. Here is something I love. Read "1♥" comments above :

    "I think the Gay community needs to reach out to more men and tell them that as a community we care about them. A day doesn’t go by that the Gay community isn’t insulted and assaulted by the hatemongering religious right. I believe this constant hate against us is taking its toll on us and we stop caring about ourselves which leads to drug abuse and unsafe sex. We should push for relationships that are based on love and commitment and letting everyone in the Gay community know that they count and are important to the future of the community."

    Now lets be honest here. Where do you really think that hate is coming from? The religious right? Think about it. As gay men out there, when was the last time a religious or political figure directly hurt or assaulted or insulted you. Think who really has. Who has made you feel like shit. Thats right, it's your fellow gay men. Who tells you you are fat. You chastizes you - DIRECTLY - for being queeny. Who serosorts you? Who rejects you at a club? Who talks smack about you to your face? Who gossips about you behind your back? Who fucks you and doesn't call the next day? OK I'll stop, but it's not the religious right. It's not Mike Huckabee (even though he is a royal asshole). Its your so called friends and acquaintances. And bloggers. And blog commentors--- see above. The very minute you begin to love yourself is the minute to realize to take all the poison around you and eliminate it. I know here in New York the gays and the lesbians are more segregated than the blacks and the whites in 1960's Alabama. Gay men are really unhealhity hinging upon each other for support, and when you start to look outside that very very angry bubble, and start to grow with everyone around you, thats when you can realize where all that aforementioned pain is coming from.

    Think about it. Who made you feel bad about yourself today? Just think for once before you make overblown claims of blame.

    Posted by: Mitch | Jan 2, 2008 7:54:11 PM

  11. Peterparker, my sympathies for you're having been infected through oral sex. I've had friends get gonorrhea in their throats from it, but all the safer sex literature I've read either says that findings are inconclusive or it's safe to have oral sex (assuming you haven't brushed your teeth or have cuts in your mouth, etc.).

    I read something along the lines of only a few dozen HIV+ people who could be tied to oral sex. It's absurd that, nearly 30 years on, we don't have better information about the transmission of this virus.

    And Mitch, your points are part of the reason I don't have many gay friends.

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 2, 2008 9:44:25 PM

  12. Meth is a major factor in this. I have guy friends who are "bi" and do meth and recently four came up positive. I have also noticed many guys exploring risky new behavior after doing that drug .What is there to that? Im a girlie & just happened upon this site & use to be in the scene and wanted to post from my experience.

    Posted by: kylie | Jan 19, 2010 11:43:17 PM

  13. I have the good fortune to have an undetectable viral load, thanks to effective daily meds and dedicated doctors. I agree that my transmission risk is low, compared to untested guys who may be in varying levels of contagion. The latest stats I have found on transmission risk to the uninfected, from a tracking study that accounted for sexual contacts, number, frequency, type, and whether and when HIV was contracted, are these:
    anal, neg inserts, poz submits: 1:1538
    anal, poz inserts, neg submits: 1:200 so use a condom, either way!
    Oral, neg inserts, poz submits: 1:20,000
    oral, poz inserts, neg submits: 1:10,000 unless cuts or sores are involved.
    My doc told me enzymes in saliva and acids in gastric fluid break down the virus.
    Unprotected mucus membranes, as in the rectum, eyes, and glans of the uncircumcised penis (the circumcised glans roughens and behaves like skin) are vulnerable to transfer. I never caught the virus through many oral episodes, but one internal emissive bareback with a friend who had just caught it and was therefore highly contagious, was all it took. So, for oral, if no bleedable areas exist, risk is low. I recommend a non alcohol, enzyme mouthwash, if any. For the squeamish, polyisoprene condoms do not taste like rubber and feel smooth for anal.
    I hope that helps. And for the record, I lost some hot chances by telling my status, but I sleep guilt free, despite the blue gonads.

    Posted by: Pozthinker | Apr 8, 2011 6:39:27 AM

  14. I need to remark on sex with poz guys. I know it is not kharma that gets me rejected, for my first time was with a trusted mentor, when I first came out. We masturbated, and he towelled away all fluids immediately. Later, I had another poz friend, on meds, who loved cuddle time, when he felt alone. If we were going for sex, he would shower and gargle before. I tasted preseminal fluid, but he never failed to pull out before ejaculating, and swiftly towelled away the fluid. He made sure I showered after sex.
    I never caught a thing from them, not even a cold.
    For the record, you cannot get HIV from French kissing, sweat, even urine (probably ureic acid has an impact). A negligible trace may be found in tears. Bloodless saliva has enzymes that kill the virus. So for most foreplay activities, fear should be absent. For anal, or if there is doubt over oral cuts or sores, a condom is cheap insurance. For a natural, frictionless, tasteless feel, polyisoprene ones are excellent, and not vulnerable to flavored oil damage, as latex ones are. Live and learn. Learn and live!

    Posted by: Pozthinker | Apr 8, 2011 7:10:48 AM

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