New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal progress since the peak of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. But the sharp increases in infection rates among young black men who have sex with men show there is much more work to do, they said.
According to the estimates, published in the journal PLoS ONE, there were 48,600 new HIV infections in the United States in 2006, 56,000 in 2007, 47,800 in 2008 and 48,100 in 2009. Over the four-year period, that amounts to an average of 50,000 cases per year.
But communities of color, and especially blacks, were disproportionately affected.
While blacks represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. HIV infection rates among blacks were nearly eight times higher than rates in whites, according to the study.
Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, said in a telephone interview that they were deeply concerned about these increases: “We can’t allow the health of a new generation to be lost to what is essentially a completely preventable disease.”[emphasis mine]
Precisely. So why, then, the increase?
The reasons for this are not yet clear, he said, but the CDC said several factors are influencing this trend.
They said young black men who have sex with men are less aware of their infection status. They may encounter more homophobia than other groups, which could keep them from getting tested. They may have less access to treatment, and they have higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases, which increases the risk of HIV transmission.
“HIV remains one of the most glaring health disparities in this country,” Fenton said in a statement.
“While we all have individual responsibility to protect ourselves from HIV infection, the research clearly shows that individual risk behavior alone doesn’t account for the significant racial disparities in HIV,” he said.
“It is essential to understand the underlying factors that contribute to these disparities, such as poverty, discrimination and lack of access to health care.”
So, if I understand Fenton correctly, a young black man decides to have unprotected sex because he’s a poverty-stricken victim of homophobia and discrimination? Really? Is he asserting that an erection and impulsiveness have no part in how one acquires this life-threatening disease? Militant gay culture has nothing to do with it whatsoever?
I truly respect the yeoman’s work the CDC performs, especially in preventing the Zombie Apocalypse, but to attempt to place responsibility for the consequences of anyone’s sexual behavior upon society is the height of liberal arrogance. There isn’t a major urban city in America that doesn’t provide free HIV testing and condoms, and to the best of my knowledge, the results of those tests aren’t distributed to the subject’s friends.
Dr. Fenton, I encourage you folks to continue educating young men of all races, but if you truly believe you can blame the rest of us and continue to ignore the reckless irresponsibility of those who are apparently incapable of thinking beyond gratifying their immediate desires, then perhaps, by your standards, it is you who should be held accountable.