While HIV infection rates in NYC appear on the decline, HIV infection rates among young gay/bi men are on the rise.
The number of new H.I.V. infections in men under 30 who have sex with men has increased sharply in New York City in the last five years, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, even as AIDS deaths and overall H.I.V. infection rates in the city have steadily declined.
New figures from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that the annual number of new infections among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men rose 34 percent between 2001 and 2006, and rose for all men under 30 who have sex with men by 32 percent.
This increase occurred even as the number of HIV/AIDS among older gay men in NYC fell by 22% during the same period.
These numbers are not only a serious indictment of the failed governmental response to HIV infections among young gay men, but also point out the ineffectiveness of the overly cautious approaches to HIV prevention taken by HIV/AIDS organizations dependent on government money. What is clear is that the constant bleating from right-wing hypocrites about abstinence-only programs and the restrictions attached to government funding for HIV prevention are damaging to the lives of young gay men. There is no way around it. The evangelical moralists, who are quite often lacking in morals, and the cynical power hungry politicians of both parties who crave their attention and votes do not give a damn about the sexual health of gay men and could care less if we all become infected with HIV.
In the absence of innovative programming that empowers young gay men to more effectively navigate issues of sex, love, intimacy, relationships and their meanings we are left with useless slogans like "use a condom every time" that have about as much relevance to gay men lives as a Dr. Seuss book.
We can and we must do better to protect young gay men from HIV.