1 in 22 Gay/Bi Men in Florida Infected With HIV
A new report from state health officials in Florida is showing evidence that 1 in 22 gay and bisexual men in the state is infected with HIV. And, while some HIV and gay activists challenged the methods used to gather this information, it can’t be denied that current HIV prevention efforts are failing yet another generation of gay and bisexual men.
From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
HIV has struck some areas of the gay community even harder, with rates as high as 1 in 11 among gay white men in Broward County, 1 in 13 gay black men in Palm Beach County and 1 in 12 gay Hispanic men in Miami-Dade County, officials said. By comparison, in the least affected group, 1 in 1,625 white women had the virus.
Florida officials are claiming that this is the first attempt to quantify the impact of the disease on gay men which I find absolutely unbelievable. We are more than 25 years in an epidemic that has had the hugest impact imaginable on gay men and our culture and these is the first time that a governmental entity has
thought care enough to figure out the impact of the disease on our community? Un-f*cking-believable!
But Florida’s new estimate is a first-in-the-nation attempt to quantify the impact of the disease on gay men, said Spencer Lieb, a senior epidemiologist at the state Health Department. While officials know how many Floridians are living with HIV/AIDS (82,000), and how many are gay men (34,500), no one knows how many men are gay.
So, Lieb said the state assumed 10 percent of men are gay. Several activists argued that the state may be underestimating the amount of HIV/AIDS among gays.
The Florida numbers may be suspect with the difficulty of identifying the precise number of gay and bisexual men and I am not sure how they accounted for men on the down low or living in the closet. But, what is clear is that the constant bleating about from right-wing hypocrites about abstinence only programs and the restrictions attached to government funding for HIV prevention is damaging to the lives of gay men. There is no way around it. The evangelical moralists, who are quite often lacking in morals, and the cynical power hungry politicians of both parties who crave their attention and votes do not give a damn about the sexual health of gay men and could care less if we all become infected with HIV.
The HIV prevention programs that are currently in place are outdated, irrelevant to the needs and interests of current generations of gay men and need to be scraped. Rather than waiting for government funders to get their heads out of their collective asses, we as gay men should raise our own funds to create our own innovative and sexually explicit campaigns that will be more effective at reaching gay men than such useless slogans as “wrap it up.” That is by no means to say that we should not push for an end the “no promo homo” restrictions often attached to government funds. In fact, we should be louder than ever in demanding that our elected officials use our tax dollars in ways that are going to benefit our community.
To quote James Baldwin, quoting the Bible: No more water, the fire next time.