HIV infection rate increasing among young gay guys…History repeating itself

young-gay-man.jpgI just don’t understand why the HIV infection rate is increasing again among young gay guys (see NY times article). For a generation who has grown up in the wired world, hasn’t the danger of the virus sunk in? Or have we, the baby boomer generation, produced a group of kids who just don’t care about anything anymore? Having been a volunteer with my county’s HIV mobile test site, I know how difficult it is to encourage young men to test for the virus. After all these years of enlightened education, our young members of society still seem to have closets to come out from. One would wonder whether the availability of social networking websites (such as MySpace, Hi5) would encourage young people to come out. However, it seems that these websites merely provide another closet to move into.

It is like yesterday when I first heard of the dreaded infection. It was my first year of law school. My roommates told me in hushed voices about the skin cancer that seems to be affecting some gay men. At that time, I felt quite fatalistic because I did not have control over it. No one knew about the cause and it would have been too late to prevent getting it. However, once it was discovered that a virus was causing the illnesses, and that it was easily preventable through the use of condoms, I became an advocate for that safer sex practice. Over the years, that thin layer of rubber has prevented countless humans from being infected.

So, I wonder why till today we have not been able to totally drill into the brains of every one to practice safer sex. Is it really worth the risk of going “bareback” for that extra amount of skin to skin sensation? Maybe the emergence of anti-HIV cocktail drugs has made some of us complacent towards being infected – thinking that it is merely a manageable disease. However, as we know, these cocktails merely serve as a dam against the virus. They are not cures. Further, it seems that these drugs have potential dangerous side effects that are causing long term sufferers to be susceptible to a lot of geriatric diseases, that is, getting old faster and earlier (see this other NY Times article). As any gay boy or men would tell you, getting old is not an option. Please be safe.

[UPDATE: For other thoughts on this subject, click here.]

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2 thoughts on “HIV infection rate increasing among young gay guys…History repeating itself

  1. It is indeed sad and a phenomenon all over the world that men are having unprotected sex. Now that being HIVpos is no longer an immediate death sentence people don’t seem to care about getting infected. Plus there are a lot of guys who don’t seem to care if they die young: to them, once they are no longer beautiful and attractive, life is not worth living anylonger. We know these people are wrong. Oh sorry, you are still young and beautiful and attractive.

  2. Once again, complacency and denial rule. “It won’t happen to me. The guy I’m hooking up with looks healthy and is really nice.” The attitude is also fueled by the porn industry and the phenomenon that ballooned with the arrival of Brent Corrigan and his bareback videos. For a while the industry seemed to take a responsible approach and not only show, but advocate the use of condoms. Now with more and more video companies employing barely 18 year olds and showing them in completely bareback situations, boys get the idea that its fine to play unprotected. They see Brent and his peers staying “healthy” year after year and think the crisis is not only over but a thing of the past. The opening up of support for gay youth is vital to the well being of young men but it must also keep pace with reality. More and more young men and boys are coming out and celebrating their sexuality. That is a great thing; but also means that we need to stay on task with information, education and mentoring.

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