A few weeks ago, Slate ran this pointed article about the FDAs refusal to allow homosexual men to donate blood. Quick summary: Yes, homosexual men are ‘at risk’ for HIV-1 infection. But the majority of HIV-1+ homosexual men are aware of their status, thanks to increased HIV-1 awareness in their social community. African Americans also have an increased risk of being HIV-1+… but very few know they are positive. So if you are going to ban homosexuals for ‘being at an increased risk of being HIV positive’ (but not people who have sex with prostitutes or IV drug users), why not blacks too? Or why not judge peoples ‘safety’ at an individual level? Why is a homosexual man who always practices safe sex and regularly gets HIV tests is ‘a risk not worth taking’, but a straight man who regularly visited prostitutes over 12 months ago and has never been tested for HIV, is fine? Why are African Americans given a pass on being at higher risk for HIV-1 infection (with limited HIV-1 awareness in their social circles) when homosexual men arent?
Race/ethnicity of persons (including children) with HIV/AIDS diagnosed during 2007:
There are certainly bumps in the FDAs logic.
For some reason (race), this was a ‘Hot Topic’ on ‘The View’ (videos here). The guest that day, D.L. Hughley, apparently thinks being a black actor makes him an HIV-1 epidemiologist and qualified to dispense information on HIV-1 in the African American community. He decided to use his air-time to dispense a nice bit of misinformation and homophobia– Black homos on ‘the down low’, are why black heterosexual women are at such a high risk of HIV-1 infection.
This is not true. Its a scapegoat for the real reasons blacks are at a higher risk, outlined by the CDC:
- Sexual risk factors include high-risk sexual contact such as unprotected sex with multiple partners or unprotected sex with persons known to have or be at a high risk for HIV infection. People may be unaware of their partner’s sexual risk factors or have incorrectly assessed them.
- Injection drug use
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)… The presence of certain STDs can significantly increase one’s chances of contracting HIV infection
- Lack of awareness of HIV serostatus
- Stigma, a “negative social label that identifies people as deviant”
- The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty
Hughley worsened the stigma of HIV-1+ in the African American community in front of millions and millions of viewers. And thankfully, lots of people are pissed off.
I actually became aware of this story via COLORLINES (we dont watch ‘The View’ in the lab *sad face*). They bring up the important point that not only did all the people seeing this show ‘learn’ that its TEH HOMOZ FAULT for HIV-1 prevalence in women, but they had no idea that information was wrong, and no doubt shared that information with friends and relatives, who shared it with friends and relatives, and so on, and so on.
No offense, but this is a lot worse than stupid Sherri Shepherd or stupid Elizabeth Hasselbeck saying something stupid (NEWSFLASH: stupid people say stupid things). This is a very real problem of homophobia, HIV stigma, and public health. So GLAAD, the Black AIDS Institute, and the National Black Justice Coalition joined forces to take out an ad in Variety Magazine, calling on ABC and ‘The View’ to have scientists on as guests to discuss this issue.
While I commend their call to action, the sad thing is, this wont happen. This just isnt going to happen.