Can we talk about HIV when health educators are out of touch with reality? Two recent articles graphically illustrated this, one in the Advocate and the other by a health educator.
In two articles, we have divergent views: one on the importance of openly discussing HIV status and med compliance and the second, regurgitating the politically correct message of ‘safe sex only’. Unfortunately, the second message resonates from gay health centers and has been woefully ineffective in reducing HIV infections for over 12 years.
It is as if gay men actively engage in behaviors because we want to become HIV+.
Basically, nothing could be further from the truth. What is generally called “reckless behavior” is hormone-driven sex.
Online ads for bareback sex among only ‘negative’ men are becoming more and more common. In fact, on one exclusively bareback website, the incidence of ‘negative’ seeking ‘negative’ partners continues to increase; this site also boasts that their bareback sex parties are now in 19 cities monthly in the US.
Who is addressing the serosorting of ‘negative men for other ‘negative’ men for bareback sex? This critical discussion needs to occur because 61% of men who thought they had a risk reduction plan for avoiding HIV, test positive! And for 12 years, new HIV infection continues to occur at the rate of 50,000 per year.
The HIV epidemic is real. The lack of education and dialog is appalling. Too many health professionals ignore educating those that last tested negative of any valid risk reduction strategies. The reality is that more and more gay men have a false sense of security.
It is time for dialog. It is time to educate. And most importantly, it is time to initiate strategies that will significantly reduce HIV infections, not only in the gay community, but also in the US as a whole, from this 50,000 per year to 1% of that within 5 years.
So what does it mean to be HIV+ today? It means that gay men’s health agencies fail to recognize who are the responsible individuals for spreading HIV. The onus remains on those who are HIV+ and ignores responsibility to educate HIV- men on valid risk reduction strategies.
Dick Keiser Jr., PhD
Author of soon to be released book:Everything A Gay Man Needs to Know about HIV, Sex and Staying Healthy.