September 27 Is National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) bear a disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS that shows no sign of abating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MSM accounted for almost four-fifths of new HIV infections among males and nearly two-thirds of all new infections in 2010. More than half of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV are gay men and other MSM, despite making up just 2% of the total population. And more than 300,000 gay men and other MSM have died of AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic, representing 48% of all AIDS-related deaths in the U.S.
Increasingly, black MSM are bearing the brunt of the epidemic and are three times more likely to be HIV positive than white MSM. Young black MSM are particularly hard hit, with an incidence rate that rivals that among young black women in sub-Saharan Africa-the region of the world most severely affected by HIV. Shockingly, if a cohort of black MSM was followed from the age of 20, 50% would be HIV positive by the time they turned 40.
Studies have shown that high HIV incidence among black MSM is not due to any differences in behavior, but rather to an elevated overall risk of exposure resulting from high prevalence in the black MSM community. Moreover, a substantial number of those who are infected are unaware of their status or not in care and are therefore at increased risk of transmitting HIV. Undiagnosed infection is a key factor contributing to the spread of HIV, and regular testing remains one of the most effective ways to help prevent transmission.
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada to prevent HIV infection. The use of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) seemed to be particularly well suited as a preventive intervention for high-risk groups such as MSM. But two years on, uptake of PrEP remains limited and it has yet to fulfill its promise as a means of substantially reducing rates of infection among MSM.
Held annually on September 27, National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was first observed in 2008 with the goals of: raising HIV/AIDS awareness, encouraging testing and linkage to care, providing information on the factors that drive transmission, and advocating for greater treatment and prevention services for gay men and other MSM. To get involved or for more information, visit the following:
- Learn more about how you can participate in National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events near you.
Act Against AIDS
- The CDC campaign to increase AIDS awareness among gay men and other MSM with targeted testing and prevention messages.