National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (#NGMHAAD) is on Wednesday, September 27, a day that should be focused on action toward ending this global epidemic. The following is a guest post by Richard George III, GMHC Policy Intern.
At Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) we know that National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is just as important in 2017 as it would have been in 1982, when our organization was incorporated to serve gay men living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in New York City. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are still disproportionately infected and affected by HIV—especially young MSM ages 13 to 24, who make up 92 percent of new HIV infections among all men in their age group.
MSM comprise 2 percent of the U.S. population yet represent more than half of the people living with HIV. As a community, we can help MSM fight HIV/AIDS in various ways, including promoting education about the virus and fostering safe spaces for these individuals. Additionally, health care providers should work with their MSM patients to ensure they are regularly tested for HIV. According to the CDC (2014), 1 in 7 MSM living with HIV are undiagnosed. And since we know that people living with HIV who are adherent to their treatment regimen are no longer able to transmit their virus to sexual partners, it is imperative that everyone who is positive has access, and adheres, to treatment. This means that people living with HIV can still experience full lives, including starting families, and even enhance their sex lives by eliminating fear of infectiousness.