Today, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) released a new report, “Gay Men and HIV: An Urgent Priority” which recommends innovative and expanded approaches to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM). Rectal microbicides and the work of IRMA are discussed among these approaches.
New HIV diagnoses among MSM jumped 17% from 2005 to 2008. The report also examines HIV incidence rates and factors contributing to HIV’s disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men, and offers a critical review of HIV prevention programs from the 1980s to 2010.
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay men and other MSM necessitates a response that is multi-faceted and sustained for the long term,” said Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. “Our recommendations coincide with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy’s (ONAP) impending release of our nation’s first national HIV/AIDS strategy. We are pleased that throughout the development of the national HIV/AIDS strategy, ONAP has prioritized reducing disparities affecting gay men of all races.”
The report highlights GMHC’s innovative social marketing campaigns, one of which is about to be launched through posters on subways, in local venues and on the Internet. “I Love My Boo” features black and Latino, young gay male couples expressing their love and care. The campaign directly challenges homophobia and encourages viewers to think critically about notions of love and what is possible in relationships.
Recommendations for what the U.S. must do differently through structural-level approaches include:
- Address homophobia and anti-gay bias as public health threats that contribute to gay men’s heightened vulnerability to HIV infection;
- Promote family acceptance which strengthens the resiliency within gay youth to better negotiate safer sex practices;
- Ensure that age-appropriate sex education programs are implemented and evaluated in schools;
- Support gay-affirming interventions and activities in schools, such as gay-straight alliances and anti-bullying curricula;
- Implement HIV prevention programs in prison including the distribution of condoms, while simultaneously reducing prison rape;
- Address stigma associated with mental health services by increasing access;
- Support culturally competent and gay-sensitive services for prevention and treatment of substance use;
- Increase the distribution and sustainability of HIV prevention messaging where gay men meet and socialize, making use of social networks and the Internet.
“This report solidifies GMHC’s vision and leadership in prevention programs in the United States which are also duplicated throughout the world,” added Hill. “Through our participatory approach, we actively create opportunities for community members to be involved as agents of change. We believe that solutions to HIV lie within communities.”