Is The Future Of HIV Leaving Gay Men Behind?
11/21/2012 2:15:00 PM
By Alex Garner
We have made tremendous strides in the fight against HIV. Treatment is keeping people alive and healthy and it’s also helping to prevent new infections. The numbers are something we should be very pleased. But when we take a closer look it becomes clear that the communities most in need are not being reached. Success in ending this epidemic will not be achieved if gay men continue to be left behind.
So there is plenty of good news in the most recent UN report:
The report shows that a more than 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections has been achieved across 25 low- and middle-income countries––more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV.
Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children.
Unfortunately, key populations are not benefitting from all this good news.
The report shows that HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs. HIV prevention and treatment programmes are largely failing to reach these key populations.
If we are thirty-one years into an epidemic and treatment and prevention are still failing to reach the communities that most need it then maybe we need to try something new. It seems so incredibly disconnected for scientists and researchers to understand that there are particular populations that are most disproportionately impacted yet those very populations are being missed.
We have made great strides when it comes to the rights and humanity of LGBT people but we have a long way to go. As long as there are countries that criminalize and execute LGBT people and people with HIV, this epidemic with thrive. As long as we are afraid to talk honestly about sex and drugs, we will fail to stem this epidemic.
This report is wonderful, long-awaited news but it should also anger and frustrate LGBT people everywhere. We are thirty-ones years into a disease that has disproportionately impact gay men and while great advancements have been made, scores of gay men are being left behind. How have we let this happen? When will we demand change?
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