Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gay Men's Health Crisis commemorates National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (9/27)

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) on Thursday, September 27, helps to raise attention to the critical issues faced by gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), who are living with and at risk of HIV.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its estimates of HIV incidence in the United States for the years 2006-2009. MSM represent approximately 2% of the US population, but accounted for 61% of new HIV infections in 2009. Blacks/African American represent approximately 14% of the US population, but accounted for 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. Hispanics/Latinos represent 16% of the US population, but accounted for 20% in 2009.

These estimates also markedly showed there was an estimated 21% increase in HIV incidence for people aged 13-29 years, driven by a 34% increase in young MSM--the only group to experience a significant increase in incidence in this age range. Among MSM aged 13-29, HIV incidence among black/African American MSM increased significantly (48%) from 2006 through 2009 with a 12.2% estimated annual percentage increase. 

"Gay men, especially those who are young and black, continue to face a serious uphill battle in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Marjorie J. Hill Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of GMHC.  "We must develop more targeted and empowering HIV prevention messages, tailored to these populations."

GMHC recently launched a public service campaign, "Address the Stress around the Test," noting that staff members in the David Geffen Center for HIV Testing and Health Education offer stigma-free counseling about feelings such as fear, anxiety and shame that may be connected to taking the HIV test, and are sensitive to the particular issues about sex, relationships and health related to gay men (as well as heterosexual women).

Also for NGMHAAD, GMHC partnered with Amida Care to update our HIV prevention campaign “Kiss & Tell” initially targeting young black and Latino gay men, but now reaching older black and Latino gay men.

“At GMHC, we work with our clients and program participants to create social marketing campaigns that highlight our target populations with visual messages emphasizing they are important and they matter,” added Hill.

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