So, I know Keith posted an item about the protest against the US government's miserable response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most glaringly around gay men, especially black gay men.
Talk about disparities - gay men make up, like what, 3% of the population? Include MSM and you got us up to maybe 5 or 6%...And yet we make up 53% of the US epidemic. About 73% of people in the US with HIV/AIDS are men, and the vast majority of those are GAY MEN, and the biggest percentage of those are black. Horrible. Four of 49 highly recommended interventions from the CDC target gay men. Guess how many target gay black men?
I am very, very pleased that this conference has highlighted the plight of gay/MSM globally - really making it the central theme of our time here - but it will be when we all get home, to the US and to the rest of the world that is undreserving and ignoring gay men (pretty much everywhere), when the rubber hits the road.
And I, for one, will NOT wait to be asked to the table to discuss the needs of gay men, or to advocate for them. Nor will I wait at the table for the rest of the players (organizational, governmental, policy, funders, etc) to come to me. WE MUST not be played for fools, we must not stand by while leaders dither and dally.
Feet to the fire time!
While we in the US are doing a terrible job, and need at least an infusion of $1 billion for targeted preventon work with gay/MSM, most of the 179 countries reporting to the United Nations on the epidemic make no mention of the virus in gay men. Yep, thatīs right, not a peep. This, despite an AmfAR report released Monday in Mexico City proving that MSM are at an increased risk of HIV compared to the rest of the population. According to the report, althought there was a unanimous commitment (made in 2001) that all U.N. member countries would monitor HIV among high-risk groups, 71% of countries said they did not have any information on the percentage of MSM contacted by HIV prevention groups. Of 128 countries, 44% failed to provide HIV data on MSM.
Are we going to change this by sitting by quietly and patiently? By "playing the game" and not offending anyone? By making sure our message reaches the general public in a way that doesnīt upset?
According to the report, Benin, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya and Thailand are the countries with the highest reported HIV prevalence among MSM. Although data were scarce, the study found MSM were 33 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population in Latin America, 18 times more likely in Asia and at least four times more likely in Africa.
Not just the US, but the world gets a big fat F for its CRIMINAL response to HIV among gay men and MSM. We have been treated as expendable, we have been lost in bullshit rhetoric like "the face of AIDS has changed."
No, hons, the face of AIDS has not changed. Sure, we have added in a much higher proportion of women in the US (around 27% of the US epidemic is female, and in other parts of the world, it is half or more) - but the fact remains. Gay men and MSM - including those of color, and those in other countries, both developed and developing) have ALWAYS been the face of AIDS. The epidemic has not moved on - it has tragically picked up new passengers, for sure, but gay men have always had seats on that bus.
So again, while I am delighted our people have gotten such great visibility here in Mexico City, we CAN'T go back to our home countries and play nice any longer. For as we play patty cake, people are getting sick and dying.
We need to confront this deadly homophobia and homo-hatred with other high risk groups - IDUs, sex workers, and women of color. We must take this stand together. It grieves me when it becomes an us vs. them approach. As we confront the horrible inequities faced by gay/MSM - we must do so in tandem with pushing for better prevention, care and treatment for other vulnerable people everywhere.
Divided will no do.