Since the HIV/AIDS first emerged in these United States, gay men have been disproportionately affected by and infected with the disease. Our community was hard-hit with tremendous loss of life and rampant hatred of homosexuals setting too much of the federal government's response to the epidemic.
I've never felt my national government has properly and forthrightly confronted gay male health needs and institutional homophobia ruling much of the medical world, and I'm not sure if the Obama/Biden team has a plan to confront the challenges of gays living with AIDS or at risk of HIV infection.
The Obama-Biden plan to combat global and domestic HIV/AIDS problems, as presented at the Change(sic).gov site doesn't contain any of the following words: Gay men, homosexuals, men who have sex with men, bisexual or transgendered men, same-sex. Is the site not only fearful of addressing homosexuals and HIV, but equally frightened of sexual transmission of the virus?
The word sex appears just once, leading me to believe almost 30 years into this health crisis, which is primarily sexually transmitted, the new administration seems to be repeating the same old scaredy-cat approach to HIV/AIDS.
If Obama/Biden and their many advisers can't even use some basic words that ought to be an essential part of the American dialogue about the myriad AIDS issues facing the nation and world, I'm worried the administration may not deliver on promises of change in the battle against HIV.
I'd like to share with the Obama/Biden team's HIV and gay advisers the following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on this topic, which was developed under the Bush/Cheney administration in 2006.
My memo, thanks to Dubya's CDC, to the Obama/Biden advisers:
The term men who have sex with men (MSM) refers to all men who have sex with other men, regardless of how they identify themselves (gay, bisexual, or heterosexual). In the United States, HIV and AIDS have had a tremendous impact on MSM. Consider these facts:
* AIDS has been diagnosed for more than half a million MSM. Over 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.
* MSM made up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV in 2005, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men. In a 2005 study of 5 large US cities, 46% of African American MSM were HIV-positive.
Since HIV/AIDS in MSM was first diagnosed 1981, gay and bisexual men have been leaders in dealing with the challenges of the epidemic. Gay organizations and activists, through their work, have contributed greatly to many of the guidelines for prevention, treatment, and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS.
For complex reasons, HIV/AIDS continues to take a high toll on the MSM population. For example, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases among MSM in 2005 was 11% more than the number of cases in 2001. It is unclear whether this increase is due to more testing, which results in more diagnoses, or to an increase in the number of HIV infections. Whatever the reasons, in 2005, MSM still accounted for about 53% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 71% of cases in male adults and adolescents.
(Photo credit: CDC gay/MSM and HIV web page.)