HIV PREVENTION: Funding Aimed at Gay, Bisexual Men Low, Study Finds
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco have found that the percentage of funds spent on HIV prevention directed at gay and bisexual men is "disproportionately low" compared to funds spent on prevention directed at heterosexuals, Reuters Health reports. Published in the journal Science, the study found that 28% of HIV prevention dollars were aimed at men who have sex with men, although 46% of all AIDS cases last year were among men who have sex with men. Conversely, 31% of funding sought to decrease heterosexual HIV transmission, which accounted for 17% of last year's AIDS cases. Lead study author Dr. Joseph Catania said that prevention funding is normally based on the number of new AIDS cases each year among different populations; however, reports of new AIDS cases are often "out of date" and ineffective in identifying demographic infection rates, since the development of AIDS in an HIV-positive person sometimes takes "a decade or more" (Reuters Health, 10/26). Catania noted that "[n]obody talks about what the actual infection rate is. That kind of focus has led people off into directions that may have been pertinent 10 years ago but aren't really relevant now" (Gale, Reuters Health, 10/26). He added, "Somewhere along the line, we've concluded that the epidemic is over among gay men." Catania disagrees, however, stating, "There should be a lot of prevention dollars being directed at gay men." The study says surveys of "various" populations -- such as men who have sex with men and minority youths -- would allow public health officials to determine "where the spread of HIV is occurring right now" and better appropriate HIV prevention dollars for high-risk individuals. Catania stressed, however, that even though HIV transmission seems to be down among heterosexuals, prevention among heterosexual populations should not be abandoned (Reuters Health, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.