‘Sexual Duality’ of Many Black MSM ‘Fans Flames of AIDS Wildfire,’ Opinion Piece Says
The "sexual duality" of many black men who have sex with men "fans the flames of the AIDS wildfire" and may account for a recent study showing an increase in the number of HIV cases among black male college students, columnist DeWayne Wickham writes in his USA Today column (Wickham, USA Today, 3/23). North Carolina public health officials at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in February presented the findings of a study that showed an HIV outbreak among black male college students in the state. Researchers found six HIV cases among male college students ages 18 to 30 in 2000, 19 cases in 2001, 29 cases in 2002 and 30 cases in 2003. Of the 84 total new cases during that period, 73 cases -- or 88% -- were among black men, and 11 cases -- or 13% -- were among white men (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/11). Homophobia among black men -- "which is deeply rooted in traditional religious values and urban machismo" -- and the slow response of the black community to AIDS has "driven a lot of black [MSM] underground," leading to greater risk taking in "both their selection of sex partners and the way they carry out sexual acts," Wickham says. "It's hard to educate gay men about the dangers of reckless sex if intolerance forces them into hiding and denial," Wickham says, concluding that educational institutions must encourage students at historically black institutions to be "more understanding, if not accepting, of gays and lesbians" (USA Today, 3/23).
Several other newspapers published articles about the increase in the number of HIV cases among black male college students. Links to the articles appear below:
Charlotte Observer: "North Carolina Colleges Racing To Teach 'HIV 101'" (Breen Bolling, Charlotte Observer, 3/20).
Cox/Charlotte Observer: "Black Colleges Address Risks of Sex With Candor" (Wahlberg, Cox/Charlotte Observer, 3/22).
Raleigh News & Observer: "HIV Data Head to Campuses" (Niolet, Raleigh News & Observer, 3/21).
Tallahassee Democrat: "FAMU Offers AIDS Prevention Services" (Davis, Tallahassee Democrat, 3/21).
AP/Washington Times: "HIV Fears Rise in Blacks" (Breed, AP/Washington Times, 3/23).
NPR's "Day to Day" on Monday reported on the "Stomp Out HIV/STDs" Conference, which was attended by students from "dozens" of historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina. The segment includes comments from CDC epidemiologist Lisa Fitzpatrick and an HIV-positive student speaker at the conference (Inge, "Day to Day," NPR, 3/22). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.