Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thirty Years of HIV/AIDS: A New Challenge Is on the Horizon

via The White House Blog by Ron Simmons, Ph.D.

Dr. Ron Simmons has made such a tremendous impact on the work I do for Black men who have sex with men (MSM).His service over the years stands as a framework for what it really means to work for the  betterment of  your community. Read his words...

When I reflect on the 30th anniversary of the HIV epidemic, I am simply amazed. Amazed that I am still alive after living with AIDS for over 20 years and that there is an effective treatment for HIV that is one pill a day. I remember the early days of AIDS, there was no name for it—only fear.

Doctors were afraid to touch you. Nurses were afraid to feed you. And your friends that tried to give you encouragement to not feel hopeless, died themselves from the disease. Today HIV/AIDS is a preventable and treatable disease. There is a lot least stigma and fear. The President of the United States speaks openly and affirmatively about ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In many jurisdictions, government funded programs provide a safety net of health care and support for people with the disease. So much has changed in 30 years, yet new challenges appear on the horizon.

One of the most serious challenges is the “paradigm shift” in HIV infection among Black men who have sex with men (MSM). Studies have found that the traditional paradigm, the theoretical model of a positive correlation between high HIV risk behavior and high HIV infection, may not be true for Black MSM. Such a paradigm shift would have a profound impact on the effectiveness of prevention efforts targeting Black MSM in the United States.

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