Gay Men Need to ‘Reexamine’ Acceptance of Unsafe Sex Practices, UCSF AIDS Researcher Says in Opinion Piece
In order to curb the still-rising HIV infection rates among gay men in San Francisco and other urban areas, "gay men need to continue to celebrate sexual liberation," but they also need to "creat[e] a community that embraces the value of caring ... as opposed to one that celebrates an endlessly extended adolescence as the epitome of existence," Thomas Coates, director of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California-San Francisco, says in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. Since 2000, when data indicated that the HIV incidence rate among gay men in San Francisco was rising, a "credible and effective response to this disturbing trend has yet to emerge" despite "everyone's best efforts," Coates continues. Although new HIV/AIDS prevention programs have been "developed and tried" over the past two years, such programs cannot be effective if they do not have the support of the community, Coates says, adding that by the end of 2002, approximately 900 gay men in San Francisco will have contracted HIV this year, up from 500 in 1997. In addition, the number of new HIV infections among San Francisco's gay community is expected to rise again next year, a trend that is "mirrored" in big cities such as New York and smaller urban areas such as Austin, Texas. Although the majority of gay men practice "safer sex" and use condoms, having sex without a condom is "in" and San Francisco's gay culture does not "plac[e] any value on sexual responsibility," Coates writes. Those gay men who are part of such a culture need to "reexamin[e]" the culture that "seems to applaud, or at best ignore, behavior that makes other people sick" (Coates, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.