America’s Secret H.I.V. Epidemic: Gay & Bi Black Men’s Rates Are Worst In The World


By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Rudy Rowe/New York Times

Though revolutionary medications are causing patients who are infected with H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. to live longer, the deadly virus and fatal disease continue to plague a vast majority of the people who have been diagnosed.

In bigger U.S. cities, such as New York City, New York and San Francisco, California, an H.I.V. diagnosis is not a death sentence anymore. This is especially the case for people who are more upwardly mobile with higher income levels.

New York and San Francisco used to be major national hot spots for H.I.V. diagnoses and A.I.D.S.-related deaths. However, nowadays, there are many more pockets of smaller, impoverished municipalities in regions across America that are being decimated by H.I.V. and A.I.D.S.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) conducted the first-ever comprehensive national estimates assessment of lifetime H.I.V. risk, which focused on a handful of critical communities.

In its 2016 national H.I.V. risk assessment, the CDC concluded that if the current trends continue, 50 percent of all black bi$exual and gay men in key U.S. areas will eventually be infected with H.I.V. or A.I.D.S. at some point during their lifetime.

The South is a major area of concern, according to the CDC’s press release on the agency’s assessment report. In another more recent report, the New York Times revealed that The South has 21 of the top 25 American municipalities with the highest rates of H.I.V./A.I.D.S. among black men who are gay or bi$exual.

“Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, is best known for blues, barbecue and ‘The Help.’ It also has the nation’s highest rate — 40 percent — of gay and bisexual men living with H.I.V.,'” wrote Linda Villarosa, a columnist for the New York Times.

In her substantive June 6th column for The Times, Villarosa offered a sobering, realistic comparison of the severe toll that H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. is taking on America’s black male gay and bi$exual population.

“Swaziland, a tiny African nation, has the world’s highest rate of H.I.V., at 28.8 percent of the population. If gay and bisexual African-American men made up a country, its rate would surpass that of this impoverished African nation — and all other nations,” Villarosa also wrote.

Fortunately, in some of The South’s black communities that have large populations of people who are at a high-risk for H.I.V. infection, organizations such as My Brother’s Keeper exist, which help get much-needed medication in the hands black men who are dealing H.I.V./A.I.D.S.

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