Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall

Today, HRC marks National Gay Men’s HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, which provides a vital opportunity to shine a spotlight on the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on gay and bisexual men in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV, comprising 70% of all new diagnoses in the U.S. in 2017. More than a third of those newly diagnosed are Black and African American men, followed by Latinx men.

The theme of this year’s CDC campaign is “the conversation about HIV is changing,” anchored in the new tools and advances we have to combat HIV in our communities. Far too many people living with HIV do not know their status and are unaware of the current realities of HIV prevention, treatment and care. 

In recent years, the LGBTQ community has benefited from biomedical interventions such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that prevents HIV when taken as prescribed. Yet, this medication is not always accessible to those most at risk for HIV, including Black and Latinx gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

If trends continue, one in six gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, including one in two black gay and bisexual men, one in four Latinx gay and bisexual men, and one in 11 white gay and bisexual men.

Recently, non-binary author and reality TV star Jonathan Van Ness bravely opened up about surviving sexual abuse and living with HIV, kickstarting a long overdue national conversation about the current realities of HIV treatment and care in the U.S. His new memoir “Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love,” provides a powerful look into Van Ness’ journey to embrace self-love and acceptance. 

Stigma and shame prevent many -- particularly LGBTQ people -- from talking with their health care providers about these issues due to fear of discrimination. Breaking through this wall of silence and sharing stories about the impact of HIV & AIDS on our communities is a key part of the fight to end HIV. 

For more information on HRC Foundation’s work to end HIV and HIV-related stigma, click here.

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