Call to Action: Lessen HIV Burden Among Young Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States
When new infections among young Black gay men increase by nearly fifty percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. - President Barack Obama, December 1, 2011
We will never end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US until we dramatically lessen the burden of HIV among gay and bisexual men, particularly young men.
Despite alarming infection rates, the response to HIV/AIDS among young gay and bisexual men has never been adequate. Allocation of prevention, research, and other resources to focus on gay men overall or young men, in particular, has never been equal to their proportion of the epidemic. Negative experiences and other barriers to accessing health care have left too many young men estranged from the services and institutions that could support healthy sexual, physical, and emotional development. Family rejection, social isolation, homophobia, and absent legal protections have perpetuated a cycle of homelessness, unemployment, substance use, and poverty among the most vulnerable.
To achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the US – (1) to reduce new HIV infections, (2) to improve access to health care, and (3) to eliminate health disparities – particular attention must be paid to young gay and bisexual men, for too many of whom HIV infection has become a rite of passage to adulthood. We can and must respond to HIV/AIDS in a way that respects and cares for all people living with HIV, while recognizing the unique impact of HIV on young gay and bisexual men.
We have never been better equipped to mount a comprehensive response to HIV among young gay and bisexual men. Social marketing campaigns and affirming messages from the highest levels of leadership are beginning to validate years of hard work promoting equality and dignity. The Affordable Care Act will offer health care to millions who have been denied access for decades. Scientific research has demonstrated both sustained health improvement and a dramatic reduction in transmission among people living with HIV who initiate treatment early after diagnosis.
We can achieve an AIDS-free generation for ALL young gay and bisexual men in the United States, but only if we make the commitment to change today.
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