Half of gay poz men aren’t being treated

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On the Eve of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention releases news that many of us are still oblvious to the problem.

Saturday marks the seventh year for the gay day of observance by the feds. It promotes testing and knowing your status, and perhaps more importantly it acknowledges “the important role gay and bisexual men have played in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” according to the CDC.

That’s not just blowing smoke up our asses with compliments. The role gay men have played is also as the country’s worst sufferers. We are an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the U.S. population, but in 2010 we accounted for 65 percent of estimated new HIV infections in the U.S.

That’s why the CDC has not just a special day, but also gay-specific campaigns to try and reach us, like Start Talking. Stop HIV. The agency also puts out regular studies to tell the story in cold hard facts for those willing to hear it. That includes a Thursday report that shows a full 49.5 percent of gay HIV positive men aren’t being treated for the disease.

It may be hard to wrap your head around that. If accurate, half of poz men are walking around at high risk for AIDS-related illnesses and for passing the virus on to others. A variety of studies show obstacles to care including lacks of understanding, messaging, funds, services, or all of the above.

The news actually gets worse.

Among gay and bisexual men who had been diagnosed with HIV:

77.5 percent were ever linked to care
50.9 percent stayed in care
49.5 percent were prescribed antiretroviral therapy
42.0 percent achieved viral suppression (i.e., the virus is under control at a level that helps keep people healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others)

And the hits just keep on coming.

There are stark disparities in care for young gay men and black gay men:

Just one-quarter (25.9 percent) of gay and bisexual men aged 18-24 diagnosed with HIV had achieved viral suppression

Among black MSM diagnosed with HIV, just 37.0 percent/ achieved viral suppression (vs. 43.9 and 41.5 percent of white and Hispanic MSM, respectively

Despite three decades of increasing service organizations, outreach programs, and overcoming legal and medical hurdles, reaching gay and bisexual men at risk is still an uphill battle. Gay men in every age group are the only U.S. demographic still seeing a rise in diagnoses. The big gay infighting over messaging and that little blue pill can’t be helping.

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