Currently viewing the tag: "HIV"

With regard to HIV and race, blacks have the highest infection rates. And black men may be playing a significant role as a result of homophobic beliefs. This was the hypothesis recently studied to determine why blacks have disproportionately high HIV numbers.

The study conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle looked at social factors in men who have sex with men (MSM), not risky sexual behavior, as previous studies have shown this not to be a factor with blacks as compared to whites. What the researchers found was a prevailing attitude of homophobia among black men in general, and even in black MSM.

Using data from a U.S. health survey, the researchers found that, in general, African-Americans were more likely than whites to report a negative attitude toward homosexuality.

In 2008, 72% of black adults said that homosexuality was “always wrong”—a rate that had changed little since the 1970s. Among whites, 52% expressed that view in 2008, which was down from 71% in 1973.

A similar pattern was seen among men who reported having sex with other men. Of these men, 57% of African Americans said they believed homosexuality was always wrong, versus 27% of whites.

When the researchers looked at the men’s reported rates of HIV testing, they found that those who regarded homosexuality as wrong were less likely to have ever been tested: 36%, versus 73% of those with a more favorable view of homosexuality.

Hmmm….I see the dilemma here. First, let me say this is an excellent study, as it seeks to understand a phenomenon not explainable by sexual behavior alone, and it is important to understand why. Let’s look at the numbers.

  • 1 in 16 black Americans will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime—more than twice the risk for Hispanics and eight times that of whites
  • in 2006 African-Americans accounted for nearly half (45%) of new infections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia
  • Blacks accounted for 56% of deaths due to HIV in 2009 and their survival time after an AIDS diagnosis is lower on average than it is for most other racial/ethnic groups
  • African-Americans account for 24% of reported HIV cases among gay and bisexual men in the U.S.

Homophobic beliefs may be contributing. It’s important to point out here that the results of the recent study do not prove that homophobia is a factor in the racial disparity in HIV infection among gay and bisexual men in the U.S., according to the study’s authors. It only gives researchers information for further study, while advocacy groups now have a point a focus politically and within community services.

“These kinds of studies are important,” said Francisco Roque, director of community health for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York-based non-profit that provides HIV/AIDS education and services. According to Roque, such research-based data are helpful for gaining support for campaigns to address homophobia, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention.

How would homophobia contribute to the disproportionate numbers of HIV infection among black men? Little known is that MSM among “straight” men (SMSM) in the black community is not uncommon (it happens in all racial and ethnic groups incidentally). Because of the stigma of homosexuality in the African-American community, many infected SMSM are not getting tested, thus acting as an asymptomatic carrier.

With 36% of black MSM who look at homosexuality unfavorably not getting tested, HIV is likely being spread to both men and women in the black community with a big fat, “Huh?!?!” Again, we can’t use this study as proof, but it looks like a plausible explanation.

Here’s a spectacular story of nature and technological potential all rolled into one fascinating physiological process–the incredible human immune system.  Researchers have found previously unknown antibodies that might prevent HIV from entering cells.  This immune system soldier could potentially be the key to discovering a long-awaited vaccine against the illusive virus.  The magnificence of the human body never fails to amaze me.

According to researchers, the newly found antibodies (three to be exact) neutralize more than 90 percent of a group of HIV-1 strains, involving all major genetic subtypes of the virus.  They do so by acting as gumming agents tying up the lock that the HIV virus “picks” in order to enter a cell.

These antibodies only appear to exist in some people, and even in the fortunate carriers they fail to make enough to totally clear the virus.  Enter human technology: The idea scientists have is to coax the body, through a vaccine, to produce the virus-neutralizing antibody.

Scientists admit that they are several years away from fully developing the vaccine but remain hopeful.  “The goal is to vaccinate individuals and have their own immune systems make an antibody like this,” said Dr. John Mascola, a vaccine researcher and co-author of two new studies on the soldier antibodies. “To do that, we have to design a new vaccine, study it first in animal models and then try it in small scale human studies, and see if it does what we expect it to do. That takes a quite a bit of time and effort.”

I have no doubt we will be hearing more about these antibodies in the future.  They exist and have now been uncovered; we are sure to learn much more about where they come from, how they operate, and whether they are truly unique to some, or if we all have the potential to develop them.  Pretty cool, huh?

Get this: Geriatric gentlemen popping Viagra are more likely to have VD.  Doh!  Yes, it’s true–middle-aged and elderly men that take the erectile dysfunction (ED) med seem to be more likely to practice risky sexual behavior.  This the latest report in the recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to the report, individuals most likely to fall into this group are men that have sex with men.  The data comes from a study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Southern California, where researchers looked at a representative sample of privately insured older men.  The study was unable to determine if the men were primarily homosexual or bisexual.

Researchers examined health insurance claims records covering 1997 though 2006 from 44 large U.S. employers. The study group included about 34,000 male beneficiaries over 40 who used ED drugs, for whom the researchers collected data covering one year before and one year after the first prescription was filled, and nearly 1.37 million men over 40 who were non-users, for whom claims data was also collected.

They found that men using Viagra or other ED drugs were two to three times more likely than non-users to have sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).   The most frequently reported STD was HIV/AIDS, followed by chlamydia. The researchers did not know if ED drug use itself increased STD risk but they plan on investigating that in future studies.

The study’s authors conclude that:

  1. Drugs like Viagra are not only being prescribed to men with ED but also to those engaging in risky behavior.  This blog has reported for a long time the use of ED drugs to party.
  2. Age is not an inherent protection against STDs.  On the contrary, it appears that men (and women) partying with older men might want to carry their own protection (or demand health records).
  3. Doctors are doing a poor job of discussing STD risk with older gentlemen.
  4. HIV was probably most reported because its symptoms are most likely to bring men into doctors’ offices.
  5. Men that do not use condoms 100% of the time or are not in a mutually monogamous relationship need routine STD screening with repeated follow-ups.

All I can say is that I think it’s human nature to make assumptions, and most people probably don’t think of their gray-haired neighbor as the typical clap carrier.  But making assumptions is foolish.  Now you know.  Carry your own rubbers, doggone it.

Oh lord, Nadja Benaissa…you know her, right? Oh you don’t? I never heard of her either, before today. But you’ll hear her name now, because she’s in BIG trouble. The pop singer from the German all-girl band, No Angels, was charged with causing bodily harm for failing to inform sexual partners that she was HIV positive. Doh! No angel, indeed.

Ms. Benaissa, 27, had sex on five occasions between 2000 and 2004 with three people and did not tell them she was infected, even though she had known since 1999, according to the charge sheet.

“She was well aware that any unprotected sexual contact can lead to the virus being passed on,” prosecutors in the German town of Darmstadt near Frankfurt said.

One of the three former partners has been confirmed as being infected with the HIV virus. Hmm…would knowing her status have changed things? Would the former partners have declined? I don’t know, have you seen what see looks like? Man, that’s dangerous.

Either way, if you are infected with HIV, herpes simplex, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or any other sexually transmittable disease…own up to it. Don’t mess with other peoples’ lives like that. It’s irresponsible and quite frankly, heinous, and one way or another it’ll come back to you. For the smokin’ hot Benaissa, well, you’re gonna have to pay, babe.

She was charged six months later; the story here:

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