There has been important progress made in reducing the HIV epidemic in the US. The rate of new infections decreased 18% from 2008 to 2014, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is being prescribed and utilized as a significant HIV prevention method. Moreover, we know that undetectable equals untransmittable (U = U), which means that a person living with HIV who maintains viral suppression cannot transmit HIV sexually. However, progress has not been achieved equally across all groups at risk for HIV. Gay and bisexual men and transgender women, especially those who are Black and Latinx, continue to be disproportionately impacted.
National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created in 2008 by the National Association of People with AIDS to recognize the disproportionate impact of HIV on gay and bisexual men. The day represents an opportunity to mobilize members of the LGBT communities to learn their HIV status and make decisions to live healthy lives, regardless of their HIV status. It is a day to emphasize the need to work toward ensuring equitable access for those impacted most, utilizing powerful tools to end new infections, and encouraging dialogue around testing, prevention, and adherence to care.
In April, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law produced a report for NMAC, “Expanding Access to Biomedical HIV Prevention”, which specifically proposes recommendations for tackling barriers Black and Latino gay and bisexual men and other communities of color face. Such recommendations include: strengthening healthcare infrastructure, increasing community campaigns promoting awareness of biomedical HIV prevention tools, training providers to better navigate across cultures to provide effective HIV treatment and prevention, increasing representation of LGBT people of color in the clinical workforce, centering voices of undocumented Latinx, and many more. The O’Neill Institute’s Infectious Disease Initiatives continue to work on the overall education of policymakers, community members, and advocates to support HIV prevention and care.
Today is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. We must continue to make progress. Let’s refocus and redouble our efforts to address the HIV and health needs of all gay and bisexual men and the LGBT community. Black and Latino gay and bisexual men must not be left behind.
This blog post was co-authored by Airin Chen, a second-year law student at Georgetown Law and a research assistant at the O’Neill Institute.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.