Homo HIV Infection Rates Among Young Gay Men
posted by June 27 at 10:42 AMon
They’ve risen fast, says to the CDC, between 2001-2006. I’ll have some thoughts up about why that is shortly. But I wanted to say this now…
The study found that homosexual men were the only “risk group” in which the number of new infections rose annually from 2001-06. In contrast, injecting drug-users, homosexual men who injected drugs, and heterosexuals each showed declines in new infections over that period.
In the 13-to-24-year-old group, the average annual increase was 12 percent, compared to a 1 percent decline in 25-to-44-year-olds, and a 3 percent rise in gay men 45 and older.
So… between 2001-2006 younger gay men were getting infected at much higher rates than older gay men. Excuse me, but wouldn’t most of these young gay men—these boys—have been subjected to the same disastrously ineffective abstinence education programs that their straight peers were? Sex “ed” programs that result in higher rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancies among straight kids are unlikely to produce better results for gay kids.
Hell, the results are likelier to be much, much worse. At least abstinence-only sex ed acknowledges the existence of straight kids and straight sex. These programs don’t acknowledge the existence of gay people; they certainly don’t give young gay people the tools they need to protect themselvesm (accurate, useful information about gay identity, sex, condoms, etc.). Abstinence education programs—designed and promoted by religious groups, above-board and stealth—argue that sex outside of marriage is always wrong, and since gay people can’t get married (or shouldn’t be able to get married), gay sex is by definition wrong. And since gay sex is always wrong, you shouldn’t be doing it at all, so there’s no point in teaching you to do it right or safely.
This problem—HIV infections among high-school age gay boys—will, like all problems confronting gay youth, be laid at the feet of that idiotic fiction, “the gay community.” But these infection rates don’t represent a failure solely—or even primarily—on the part of the “gay community.” They represent a failure on the part of straight parents and straight schools to take responsibility for—to responsibly parent and educate—their gay children. Like I wrote in the Queer Issue (“Appropriate This”) in 2003…
But what I found most interesting about the “STDs and young people” stories written in the wake of the mini-epidemic [among straight kids in a Minnesota high school] were the calls to action that invariably came at the end. The calls all went something like this: “Parents are going to have to wake up! They’re going to have to get involved in their children’s lives! Guide your kids, Mom! Protect your kids, Dad! Wave condoms under their noses! Drag them to an STD clinic and get ‘em tested!”
At the same time chlamydia was roaring through student bodies in Minnesota, there were stories in the news about other teens and young adults contracting an STD far more worrisome than chlamydia. These stories occasioned a lot of handwringing and included impassioned calls to action. But the calls to action were very different. Because these stories were about gay teenagers, not straight teenagers, and because the disease was HIV/AIDS, not chlamydia, the calls to action all went something like this: “What is the gay community going to do about this?”
The moral of these two stories is this: When their straight kids are doing something risky and dangerous, straight parents are told they have to take responsibility for protecting their children and get more involved in their kids’ lives. But when a child is gay? Then straight parents are off the hook. Suddenly the child isn’t the responsibility of Mom and Dad, but of the “gay community,” that hardy fiction. Straight parents don’t have to look after their gay kids. They’re absolved of all responsibility for their care and protection. It’s supposedly my job, as an adult gay person, to look after their gay kids—to guide them, protect them, and wave condoms under their noses.
Well guess what, straight moms and dads of gay and lesbian kids: Besides not fucking “gay youth,” there’s not a whole hell of a lot gay adults can do for them. While we can offer some help to the ones who run away from the miserable small town you chose to live in (or the intolerant high school you sent them to), and to the ones you kick out on their asses, we simply don’t have access to that many gay youth. Most are deeply closeted and live far from urban areas, far from gay neighborhoods and organizations. Even if we wanted to help them, we couldn’t.