World AIDS Day 2004: HIV / AIDS Cases Rise 11% Among MSM


Bill Weintraub

World AIDS Day 2004: HIV / AIDS Cases Rise 11% Among MSM


I've observed repeatedly over the last four years that not only are HIV infection rates not falling, they're actually rising among gay and bi "men who have sex with men" (MSM) in America.

That's despite the hundreds of millions spent anually on HIV prevention programs: condom campaigns.

The following article from Reuters is based on a new CDC report, which you can access here.



December 1, 2004

HIV, AIDS Cases Rise Among U.S. Gay, Bisexual Men

By Paul Simao

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A rise in new cases of AIDS and HIV infection among gay and bisexual men in many U.S. states, reported in a federal study on Wednesday, has given support for concerns the disease is resurgent in the country.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in connection with World AIDS Day, said new HIV and AIDS diagnoses in 32 U.S. states rose 11 percent among gay and bisexual men between 2000 and 2003.

Rates were stable among most other population sectors, and the overall infection rate rose to 19.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2003 from 19.5 per 100,000 people in 2000.

AIDS, which destroys the immune system and leaves victims vulnerable to an array of opportunistic infections and cancers, has killed about half a million Americans and 22 million people worldwide since 1981.

Gay and bisexual men are believed to account for a majority of the estimated 850,000 to 950,000 Americans living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

[I'd say more like 75%, given that many intravenous drug users are also MSM.]

In the United States public health experts have been warning of a possible resurgence of the epidemic, which eased in the early 1990s following the development of antiretroviral drugs targeting the disease.

Since the late 1990s, when U.S. deaths from AIDS stabilized at 16,000 per year and new HIV infections stabilized at 40,000 per year, the disease has shown signs of a comeback, particularly among gay and bisexual men.

Between 2000 and 2003, a total of 125,800 people were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in the 32 states, according to the new report.

Forty-four percent of these cases occurred among gay and bisexual men. "Men who have sex with men continue to constitute a substantial proportion of HIV/AIDS cases," said the CDC.

It said blacks, who represent about 13 percent of the U.S. population, made up 51.3 percent of all HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed in the same period.

New York, California and other states that had not used confidential, name-based reporting of HIV and AIDS cases for at least four years were excluded from the study.

A number of health departments across the nation also have reported a worrying surge in syphilis and some other sexually transmitted diseases among gay and bisexual men. Sexually transmitted diseases are known to increase the likelihood of contracting HIV.

To combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America, the U.S. government decided last year to emphasize programs that focus on testing and counseling people who are already infected.

Some AIDS activists, however, fear the new approach will lead to reduced funding for many programs that emphasize condom use and other safe-sex [sic] practices for uninfected people.

[What other practices? They emphasize condoms and condoms alone.]

The CDC, which hopes to cut the number of new annual HIV infections in half within five years, also has recommended routine HIV testing be expanded to include pregnant women, intravenous-drug users and anyone who engages in unsafe sex.

Bill Weintraub:

A few points.

If the math in this article doesn't make sense to you, you're right.

The CDC -- the most important federal agency charged with fighting this brutal, gruesome disease -- doesn't really know the true number of people infected with HIV in America.

It has to estimate, because reporting is uneven and unreliable.

That's a legacy of the Reagan years, when the decision was made to treat HIV / AIDS as a political rather than a medical issue.

The Bush admin has continued in that vein.

I tried for most of President Bush's first term to get his people to acknowledge that among MSM, HIV / AIDS is an anally-transmitted disease.

They won't do that, because, so far as I can tell, to them *any* discussion of homosexuality is beyond the pale.

This admin is beholden to and fears the religious right, which aims at nothing less than the total elimination of homosexuality.

That's their goal.

And if they can't convert every gay into an ex-gay, they're determined to marginalize and re-ghettoize homosexuality, and prevent it from "spreading" into the larger culture.

Which is one of the reasons they're so opposed to "gay marriage."

Their thinking is schizoid.

On the one hand they insist that only a tiny minority of Americans -- about 2.5% -- are LGBT.

On the other they understand and fear that the potential number of bisexuals is huge -- probably 80%.

And that they cannot abide.

So: I'm critical of the gay male subculture in which this 11% rise in HIV / AIDS cases has occurred.

But I'm also clear that much of gay male subculture, including and especially the emphasis on anal penetration, is a dysfunctional response to the truly crazy homophobia of the majority, allegedly heterosexual, culture.

Which is not, in its collective subconcious, heterosexual, but bisexual.

If the people in that culture were really and exclusively heterosexual, homosexuality wouldn't matter to them.

But they're not, and so it does.

Homophobia -- which can best be understood as the irrational fear and loathing of one's own homosexual impulses -- continues to drive American culture, and to shape the American response to AIDS.

Bill Weintraub


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