The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative & Public Affairs Kali Lindsey:
Washington, DC – “Today, the National Minority AIDS Council joins the entire HIV/AIDS community in commemorating National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. For too many young gay and bisexual men, HIV infection has become a rite of passage to adulthood. Gay and bisexual men represent the only statistical risk group in which HIV infection rates are increasing. This is unacceptable. Young gay and bisexual men aged 13-29 constitute less than one percent of the general population but account for 64% of new infections. This is unacceptable. Black young gay men are especially ravaged by the epidemic and shouldered a 48% infection rate increase between the years 2006 and 2009. This is unacceptable.
“As a gay black man whose been living with HIV for 10 years, I understand all too intimately the challenges this disease poses. We must do more to protect our brothers and encourage them to get tested, be vigilant about their health, and consider treatment when they are ready. Our movement is at a turning point. America’s entire HIV/AIDS infrastructure is transforming. Science and policy have aligned like never before, and made it possible to realistically envision an America where HIV infections are rare, even among communities of color, gay men, and transgenders, who bear the brunt of this disease.
“NGMHAAD is an important opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS, both as a community and a nation, as well as the extent of work that still remains. Gay men, particularly young gay urban men, once jumped on cars in their cities’ streets to demand an end to the silence and inaction around the disease that was killing them. Gradually, however, improved drug treatments and reduced deaths began to fuel a growing sense of hope—and, unfortunately, a growing sense of apathy followed. But now is not the time to slow down. We must push back and demand action!
“This Sunday, NMAC will hold the 16th annual United States Conference on AIDS, bringing together thousands of representatives from all fronts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to build national support networks, exchange the latest information and develop innovative strategies to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While this year’s target population is women of color, we will discuss ways to reduce the burden of this epidemic in all vulnerable communities, including gay and bisexual men. Our movement is at a time of incredible promise, but there are a number of challenges that remain. We need a unified vision, an actionable plan and the guts to make the tough decisions. Most of all, we need to believe that we really can end this epidemic. As a black gay man living with HIV, I won’t rest until we’ve finally made this disease history.”