World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1, is a time to remember friends and loved ones we’ve lost since the onset of the AIDS crisis over three decades ago, celebrate advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and look ahead to new progress.
Fenway Health saw some of the earliest cases of what is now known as HIV/AIDS in New England; and ever since, we’ve been committed to improving the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS through groundbreaking research, prevention and education services, and care. Today, 1,750 people living with HIV and AIDS get care at Fenway, and we administer more than 6,000 HIV tests a year.
Our community continues to be disproportionately affected—especially gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women:
- Gay and bisexual men and other MSM are only an estimated 2% of the population but make up an astounding 64% of all new HIV infections.
- In 2009, 52% of people living with HIV in the United States were MSM.
- In 2010, MSM accounted for 51% of all AIDS diagnoses.
- Black MSM acquire HIV at rate of 2.8% per year (50% higher than white MSM). Black MSM under 30 acquire HIV at a rate 3 times their white peers.
- In a meta analysis of 29 studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 27.7% of transgender women tested positive for HIV; 73% of HIV-positive transgender women were unaware of their status.
We’ve created this infographic to illustrate how HIV/AIDS continues to impact the LGBT community. You can share it on Facebook and Tumblr to help friends and family understand why World AIDS Day still matters:
Many challenges to fighting HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community remain. Too many people at risk for HIV do not have access to HIV prevention programs. For example, 80% of gay and bisexual men report not being reached by prevention programs in the prior year. And too many people are unaware of their status. In 2008, 44% of MSM who tested positive for HIV were unaware they had the disease.
However, as we mark this World AIDS Day, advances in biomedical prevention have given many new hope that the end of the epidemic may be within reach. The iPrEx study showed that antiretroviral medication can be used in high-risk HIV-negative individuals to prevent the transmission of HIV. We also know that early initiation of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive individuals can reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to uninfected partners by as much as 96%.
Here are some ways you can help further advances against HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community this World AIDS Day:
- Lead by example: get tested! Check out our calendar for walk-in testing hours at Fenway, or visit AIDS.gov to find an HIV testing site near you.
- Donate a tweet or status update to the cause. Share the importance of World AIDS Day with your social networks and encourage people to get tested. Tag World AIDS Day tweets with #wad2012. You can also share our infographics on Facebook and Tumblr to help educate your friends, family, and followers.
- Attend a World AIDS Day event. Fenway Health is hosting a free screening of How to Survive a Plague on December 4, 2012; and a coalition of organizations, including Fenway, are hosting the second annual World AIDS Day at the Massachusetts State House on December 5, 2012.
- Join a research study. You can be a part of future advances in HIV prevention, vaccine development, and treatment.
- Support HIV/AIDS research, advocacy, and care organizations. Support from the community—whether in donations or volunteer hours—can help prevent new infections, and improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. At Fenway, a donation of just $25 helps us make and distribute 60 safer sex kits. $50 helps make 9 home deliveries of medication.
Together, we can slow the spread of HIV and better care for those affected by it.