Since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, gay men have been in the eye of the HIV hurricane in the United States—and they continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic in North America.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study of HIV prevalence and unrecognized infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) in 21 major U.S. cities. The study, published in the September 24 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that young MSM and MSM of color were least likely of all population groups to know of their infection. Of course AIDS has never been simply a “gay disease,” however, the scientific data are clear—MSM are at greatly increased risk for getting HIV. CDC estimates that MSM account for nearly half (48%) of the more than one million people living with HIV in the U.S.
To highlight these special risks, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) launched the annual observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) on September 27, 2008. NGMHAAD refocuses attention on gay and bisexual men—the population that has been most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.The recently unveiled National HIV/AIDS Strategy recognizes the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on gay and bisexual men, and calls for reorienting attention and resources to address the special prevention and treatment needs of this community.
As the Administration begins implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, it is especially timely that we pause to recognize the impact of HIV and AIDS among gay and bisexual men and commit to ending the suffering and loss of life. We also deeply respect and honor the many community members who have led public efforts for better prevention, education and treatment. Together we can work to stem the spread of HIV among gay and bisexual men, and indeed among all Americans, to ensure that those affected get the information, care, and services they need and deserve.
On this NGMHAAD, we encourage you to help promote the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Together, we can reach the future vision of a society where HIV is rare and everyone receives needed care.