Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delivered sobering news about the incidence of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM). In a study of 21 major cities, they found that one in five men who have sex with men is infected with HIV, and nearly half (44%) of those men are unaware of their infection.
This information is particular relevant today, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. These numbers are a harsh reminder that the silence must be broken. It is critical for gay men to know their own HIV status – and the status of their partners. For young gay men, such questions are increasingly important. CDC’s latest statistics revealed that for HIV positive men under the age of 30, almost 63% were unaware of their status.
Earlier this year, the administration released the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy. One of its key themes was that the “United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” It is the same theme that our community has voiced for over three decades, and it has finally gained traction. The strategy and federal implementation plan set specific goals to increase HIV diagnosis rates among MSM over the next five years.
We are thrilled to hear that last week the Department of Health and Human Services announced that million in additional resources would be allocated to funding this strategy.
One of the most powerful prevention tools – one we can all use today – is knowing your status. The CDC recommends that MSM of all ages get tested for HIV at least annually, or more often (every three to six months) if they are at increased risk (e.g., those with multiple or anonymous sex partners, or who use drugs during sex). Achieving those goals begins with each of us. Take the test, know your status, share it with your partner.
Locate a testing site near you or text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948)
For additional information, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California San Francisco has compiled informational resources for HIV-related risks and staying safe. These fact-sheets are available in both English and Spanish.
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