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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


HIV Rises Dramatically in Teens, Twentysomethings

Some sobering, terrifying news. I'm sadly reminded that history is forever repeating. Are young gay men doomed to repeat the terrors of their forefathers?
Statistics gathered by New York City health officials show that new diagnoses of H.I.V. infection — the virus that causes AIDS — in gay men under age 30 rose 32 percent between 2001 and 2006. Among black and Hispanic men, the figure was 34 percent. Most troubling, the number of new diagnoses among the youngest men in the study, those between ages 13 and 19, doubled. [NYT]
I can't begin to tell you how much this saddens me. I'm of an age where I can remember dozens of dead friends, and have close loved ones still fighting the disease...including one friend diagnosed in 1989! (Yeah, wow!) I'm also lucky enough to count some marvelous young gay men among my friends and colleagues...and have been saddened to learn they have no understanding of AIDS as a life-threatening force. Many engage in anonymous or online-hookup sex, and few insist upon safe-sex practices. Some of them don't even know how to protect themselves. (Hint: barebacking isn't safe, even if you're really in love with the guy.)

The article puts the blame on drugs and alcohol, and certainly the crystal meth obsession has to be considered as a major factor. But this is also the generation that had their sex education classes cut by Republicans, who are relatively ignorant about protecting themselves because their parents, teachers, and preachers didn't want them to know. If this generation of gay men is endangered the way we were in the 80's and 90's, I believe it's because those who should have loved them most let them down.

Let's hope it's not too late. If you have a desire to get involved or make a donation for AIDS education, consider The Center or YouthAIDS.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this very important information. Having done outreach for many years in South Texas, I found it frustrating and extremely difficult when we were prevented from going into the high schools and discussing this very important message. The only thing that could be discussed is abstinence, which works great, but not steeped in reality.

You might also want your readers to know that there are several wonderful online resources, where they can get real answers from professionals. Whether newly diagnosed, in a positive/negative relationship, having children etc. No question is too stupid to ask. They also have message boards where you can seeks additional support with people dealing with the very same issues. They can be found at http://www.projectinform.org/ and http://www.thebody.com/.

Thanks for all you do.

1/15/08, 7:09 AM  

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