Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

GUEST COLUMN: HIV gay again
by Jim Eigo
2013-07-05

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


On Dec. 19, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report, "Estimated HIV Incidence in the United States, 2007-2010." To gay readers who'd lived through the AIDS epidemic, the document presented a landscape eerily like the early plague years, when AIDS was a gay disease. In 2010, 66 percent of new HIV infections, 31,800, were in "men who have sex with men" (MSM, a category that includes gay and bisexual guys and transgender women), though they account for less than 2 percent of the population.

Between 2008 and 2010, new infections rose 12-percent for gay men while falling or remaining stable in all other populations. Transmission for young gay men spiked upwards 22 percent. MSM faced 30 times the HIV risk that straight guys faced. A gay African-American man was six times likelier to be infected with HIV than a white gay man, and a Hispanic man was three times likelier. Researcher Ron Stall's 2009 prediction that more than half of young gay men would be HIV-positive by age 50 suddenly seemed a chilling underestimate.

In the early 1980s, faced with seeming extinction, gay men invented safer sex. Supported by pamphlets, videotapes and workshops, promulgated across gay sexual networks, safer sex emphasized lower-risk sex acts and using condoms for high-risk anal sex. Empowered to take control of their lives in the face of a deadly virus, gay guys drove HIV incidence down by 75 percent between 1984 and 1993. Believing that safer sex was all the prevention we'd ever need, we who were AIDS activists never fought for prevention research or the development of new prevention tools. We focused on securing treatments for the sick and potentially sick.

But we were wrong to think the original community consensus behind safer sex could survive an evolving epidemic. As early as 1993, even as AIDS deaths mounted, HIV incidence for gay men began a slow upward drift. Combination antiretroviral therapy, introduced in 1997, would make HIV a manageable disease for most who received treatment. The term "barebacking" came into use to refer to a conscious decision to discard condoms, at first an exceptional position that soon spread. Most ongoing prevention programs, unequal to the new epidemic, simply tinkered with the safer sex workshops of an earlier generation. A slow rise in HIV incidence for gay guys continued until the recent acceleration captured in the latest incidence report.

There's no good evidence that current HIV prevention programs work, so federal and local governments have cut funding for prevention that targets HIV-negative people at risk. People who are HIV-positive, when effectively treated, achieve an undetectable amount of HIV in the blood and are much less infectious. So "Treatment as Prevention" (TasP) has become a popular notion in the world of AIDS. But 20 percent of HIV-infected Americans — and over 50 percent of HIV-infected young gay men — don't know it. People are least likely to know they are HIV-positive shortly after seroconversion, when they're most infective. And only 28 percent of Americans living with HIV sustain an undetectable viral load. So treatment of HIV-positive people, while laudable work, will not itself eliminate new HIV infections anytime soon. The trend away from engaging HIV-negative people in prevention efforts misses an opportunity and accepts as inevitable many thousands of seroconversions. A more rational model of HIV care would reach across the divide of serostatus to deliver testing, counseling and treatment to the at-risk HIV-negative population.

In this HIV prevention emergency the queer community has been abandoned. Mainstream gay organizations shelved AIDS as an issue more than a decade ago. In 2010 only 3.3 percent of the CDC's discretionary AIDS budget went to MSM, who account for nearly two thirds of new infections. A new wave of HIV activists will have to sound the alarm and reassert, even in an age of effective treatments, the value in remaining HIV-negative. Knowing one's HIV status is the first step to making smarter sex decisions. Too few young queers do. We'll have to pressure departments of health to invest in widespread testing, integrated into the daily lives of gay men and trans women — or we'll have to develop such programs ourselves. Community members have to start a big conversation about the sex we're having, about serostatus, about how we can have our pleasure and maintain our health. It will take queer people to devise targeted, sex-positive, queer-friendly "smarter sex" outreach.

The community's knowledge about prophylactic, or preventive, HIV drugs is shockingly low. If you're HIV-negative and had anal sex without a condom or the condom broke, you can prevent HIV infection with a 28-day course of medication, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), provided you act quickly. HIV-negative people whose behavior puts them at continued risk for HIV exposure are eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily dose of HIV drugs that greatly reduces risk if taken as directed. Prevention activists will have to get the word out about these drugs, even as they demand that the CDC and local departments of health fund information campaigns that target at-risk sub-groups, community doctors and emergency rooms about HIV prevention drugs.

Twenty-one years ago, some treatment activists from ACT UP/NY, the best-known and largest AIDS activist organization, broke away to form the Treatment Action Group, TAG. Activists on both sides of the divide did important work that led to effective AIDS treatments. On Pride Day some of us will be marching together again in the ACT UP contingent, along with a fresh generation of activists, the first steps in an HIV prevention campaign that we hope will help reverse the frightening rise in new cases of HIV infection. We cannot surrender half of a new generation to the virus that stole so many from the last.

Thanks to ACT UP's James Krellenstein, who crunched some of the numbers for this blog post.

Jim Eigo has written on theater, dance, art, literature, sex and the design of clinical trials. He helped design two reforms of AIDS drug regulation, accelerated approval and expanded access, that have helped bring many treatments to many people, work profiled in the recent documentaries, How to Survive a Plague and United in Anger. His short fiction has appeared in such volumes as Best American Gay Fiction #3, in such periodicals as The Chicago Review and recently online at cleavermagazine.com . He works on HIV Prevention issues with ACT UP/NY.

This column originally appeared in the Huffington Post, www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-eigo/hiv-gay-again_b_3497726.html .


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Rebranded Montrose event focuses on health 2015-06-28
New Jersey jury finds JONAH guilty of consumer fraud 2015-06-26
Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act subsidies 2015-06-25
Affinity, Access Living host town hall on disabilities 2015-06-24
Juniper Center moves into larger space for its counseling, therapy 2015-06-23
Study: Social support networks important to LGBT youth adjustment 2015-06-23
PrEP advocates respond to AHF ads 2015-06-21
CDPH expands meningococcal vaccination recommendations 2015-06-19
Congress may end Family Planning Program; 92,000 Illinoisans could be without care 2015-06-18
Meningitis outbreak grows; CDPH, CDC expand vaccine recommendation 2015-06-18
Notices: Hall of Fame nominating open; Howard Brown opens walk-in clinic 2015-06-17
Gay fathers club growing rapidly in Chicago 2015-06-16
Fifth meningococcal case reported in area 2015-06-12
Zachary Quinto Joins Foundation for a National AIDS Monument Board 2015-06-12
Free HIV testing June 14 2015-06-12
Relationships & Law: Protecting parental rights after adoption, surrogacy 2015-06-10
Study examines drinking among lesbians and bisexual women 2015-06-09
CHM exhibition chronicles movement of disability rights 2015-06-09
#TraumaCenterNow Week of Action concludes with rally 2015-06-06
Collaborative launches 'Step Up. Get Tested' 2015-06-05
Fourth meningococcal infection reported; city continues call for vaccinations 2015-06-05
Sexual minority young adults at higher risk of suicide; prejudice contributes 2015-06-04
Experts: Fight Hepatitis C epidemic with more testing, caps for co-pays 2015-06-04
Open Door to hold Grand Opening of Elgin Health Center 2015-06-04
Study to look at quality of life for older, rural HIV-positive adults 2015-06-04
Chicago House, Center on Halsted deny merger talks 2015-06-03
Harmony, AFC bring awareness to testing, treatment, holistic health needs 2015-06-03
Meningococcal disease outbreak in Chicago, MSM urged to get vaccinated 2015-06-03
The Urban Death Project and human composting 2015-06-02
Daylong summit to focus on long-term HIV/AIDS survivors 2015-05-31
Local: "Step Up. Get Tested'; CTA proposal; new Northalsted initiative 2015-05-26
Sweets & Snacks Expo takes healthful turn 2015-05-26
Activists: Reach out to senators on conversion therapy bill 2015-05-26
Marijuana possession bill passes Illinois Senate 2015-05-24
Illinois Senate bill would removes criminal penalties for marijuana possession 2015-05-21
Missouri HIV case gets national attention 2015-05-20
Gay HIV-positive singer lives life out loud 2015-05-20
Conversion therapy ban passes House 2015-05-19
Impact of state cuts dire; private philanthropy will not fill hole 2015-05-19
Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act introduced to block conversion therapy 2015-05-19
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.