AIDS More Widespread Among US Gays than Previously Thought

We’ve had this discussion several times before: Whenever a gay poster mentions a one-night stand or casually hooking up with a partner, someone usually posts in the thread to remind them to be careful and practice safe sex. Other gay posters usually rip the safe-sex poster a new one for their audacity to presume the gay population doesn’t know about AIDS and safe sex.

A recently released study indicates that a majority (77 percent) of the gay and bisexual men in the study who tested HIV positive don’t even realize they have the disease.

A few excerpts:

"On Sunday, Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, the CDC’s deputy director for HIV, STD and TB prevention, warned that infection rates could climb again unless prevention efforts are stepped up. The rates have remained fairly stable at 10,000 new cases every three months since 1998. …

Another CDC study presented at the conference, which examined anonymous blood samples of 40,000 high-risk patients of all ages, found that the rate of new infections for gay and bisexual men was nine times higher than for women and heterosexual men."

Folks, this Web site is about fighting ignorance. Obviously, when 77 percent of gay and bisexual men infected with a deadly disease don’t even know they have it, a certain level of ignorance exists. It may be personally offensive to you to hear the safe-sex mantra over and over, but there’s evidence that the message needs to be told in as many ways and in as many places as possible.

Some of the folks who get upset about these safe-sex reminders are long-time and valued posters here. Speaking for the Board as a whole (which I’m allowed to do, being Evil Incarnate and all), we don’t want to lose you. Yes, hearing this reminder about safe sex is akin to your mother telling you every time you walk out the door to buckle your seatbelt. But she does that because she cares. Rather than getting upset at a reminder, could you refrain from attacking a poster (any poster) who is repeating the safe-sex mantra? It obviously needs to be said.

I’m putting this in the Pit, because I’m sure the responses (if there are any; in addition to being Evil Incarnate, I’m a threadkiller, too) will get heated. I hope not. I’m not trying to be confrontational; I just don’t want to lose anyone here (or any lurkers) to this senseless disease.

I would be interested to know what percentage of heterosexuals who tested positive for HIV didn’t know they’re infected either.

What in your OP, or the study you cited, supports this?

Nothing. Poor choice of words for the title. I wrote it first, meaning to go back and edit it.

Gotcha. No worries, then.

Who thinks they have it? People go to get tested because they are worried and want a clean bill of health. Then they find out that they are infected, and I would think most wouldn’t have thought they were. YMMV.

Yeah, I was (am) a little uncertain about the methodology here, too, Hastur. It’s a little unclear how they did the study, but the Times article and the CNN story above indicate that they might have improperly selected against people who might reasonably have suspected and already taken steps.

Does someone have a link to the study itself? A quick perusal of the “methodology” section may be useful here.

What Frannie said, plus: how big, in percentage, is this group of HIV infected gays (of which 77% were unaware) compared to the test group of gays out of which they came?

Surely, there was a larger test population (of indeterminate HIV status, at least to the researchers), or this test is absolutely worthless. All it says now is: “the tiny group of gay people in our test who have contracted HIV are often quite ignorant of the intricacies of the disease”. Well, duh. Had they been up to speed, they would not have contracted it in the first place.

I didn’t find a full-text version of this study online, but from what I’ve read the study was based on blood tests from a randomly chosen sample of gay men in night clubs, bars, dance halls, etc. (i.e. traditional gay–and straight–courting areas). I also wouldn’t call a 570-person testing pool a ‘tiny group’ but I would also agree that larger=better in studies such as these.

My main concern with this study is that it again seems to reinforce the AIDS=gay/African problem linkage that always seems to occur in the media. I would also be interested in how many straight HIV-positive people were aware they had the disease. Some more links for ya:
(another good article on the conference)

If you’re not depressed/scared about this pandemic already, just look at this site. It has a lot of older articles on it too so it makes for an interesting history lesson too.

Those infected made up approximately 10% of the total of those surveyed for the study.

From CNN’s report

This is the part I found disturbing:from here

If this is an accurate representation of the attitudes of young gay(and straight, for that matter) men today, it makes me wonder if current efforts in education are having any effect at all.

I would wonder if this test tended to select against people who already knew that they were HIV+. These people, when asked to participate and told that a blood test was involved, would probably think more often than other people, “Nah, I don’t need to do this study” since they do know their status already.

The article mentioned studies done on people wanting to join the military or applying for jobs that require being tested. These people do not have the option to decline testing. In a study such as the one listed, people do have the ability to decline to participate, and would have to be informed of things like a blood test before agreeing.

True, but I fail to see how that affects the outcome much. They surveyed more than 5,700 men, of whom roughly 570 tested positive. In your scenario, another 2,000 (for example) might have declined to participate in the survey because they already knew their positive status. That would lower the percentage of those who didn’t know they were positive, but it would raise the overall percentage of those who were positive. I’m not sure that’s an improvement.

The other troubling fact is barely mentioned in the story – that of the study of 40,000 blood samples from high-risk people. Gay and bisexual men are nine times more likely to become infected with HIV than women or heterosexual men who also participate in high-risk behaviors? That’s just wrong.

Is there a particular accessability to HIV via the ahem other end?

Or is it a sub-cultural thingy?

Yes, most especially if you don’t use a condom.

Anyway, this is just one of the many reasons why I scarcely ever have anal sex (besides the fact that I find topping overrated and bottoming very painful for me).

smiling bandit–the problems arise more often with anal intercourse because it is more traumatic to the tissue. Compared to oral or vaginal sex, getting a rectal poking is much more likely to cause small tears or abrasions in the skin, which then serve as perfect points of entry for the virus.

bella–who thinks things are going to get a lot worse before they get better

I also wonder how the numbers compare HIV+ vs. HIV- in the gay community, and heterosexual HIV+ vs. homosexual HIV+. Jillgat? Little help?

I, too, am not surprised that a majority of people who find out they’re positive are caught unawares - “it can never happen to me,” of course.



While all this is bad enough, it’s not the worst part.

“Ordinary” STD transmission rates are a good proxy for HIV transmission rates.

Maybe most folks who read this board have gotten the safe sex message, a growing number of people haven’t.

I think that’s the crux of the “please don’t lecture us about safe sex” discussion of previous weeks - you’re preaching to the choir here on the SDMB. We all get it - it’s those outside our humbly enlightened community that don’t.


Hear, Hear!