October 16, 2009

Good news! "DL" black men not responsible for HIV in black women; bad news! HIV among black women still high high high

First, the good news via Box Turtle Bulletin:

African-American women make up 61% of all new HIV cases among women in the U.S., and they are 18 times more likely to become infected than White women. Until now, it was believed that this exceptionally high infection rate was due to bisexual African-American men. But a new statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention throws cold water on that theory:

Heterosexual black men with multiple sex partners — not bisexual men who secretly have sex with men — are responsible for high rates of HIV among black women, according to a senior CDC official.

“We have looked to see what proportion of infections is coming from male partners who are bisexual and found there are actually relatively few,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “More are male partners who are having female partners and are injecting drugs or using drugs or have some other risks that may put those female partners at risk of acquiring HIV.”

…”What we’re seeing is a concentration of the epidemic among the poor, among ethnic minorities and racial minorities in the United States,” Fenton said.

Among gay men, African-Americans are bearing a disproportionate brunt of HIV infections. In the most tragic example, Black teens make up only 13% of the nation’s teen population but they account for 69% of new HIV/AIDS cases for those among the 13-19 age group.

I won't lie, I too have fallen into the assumption from time to time that DL men are apparently so irresponsible they can't even use a condom or get regular check ups and thus MAYBE? are part of the cause for such high rates of HIV among young black women. But I've also pondered if a lot of it doesn't have to do with more immediate causes like crime, poverty, drugs, maybe even insufficient sex ed. So it's nice to see that I wasn't totally wrong. Really my biggest problem with DL men is that they're...well, on the "down low". But that's a point for another time.

The bad news (yeah that was the good news somehow) HIV rates among black women & men are still HIGH and it's good that we don't have to lean on this tired assumption anymore (if anyone was still seriously considering it) but we still need to combat this.

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