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Almost half of Black Gay Men, in Atlanta, are HIV Positive


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Photo Credit: Photo by Branden Camp/For The Washington Post


The Washington Post’s Storyline looks at the high rate of HIV among black gay men, examining the issue through interviews with the researchers and citizens struggling with the troubling disparity in HIV diagnoses. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/04/the-black-hiv-epidemic-a-public-health-mystery-and-love-story-from-atlantas-gay-community/


The researcher: In the early 2000s, a young researcher at the Centers for Disease Control named Greg Millett set out to solve an epidemiological mystery. Nobody could explain why black Americans, particularly black gay men, had such high rates of HIV infection compared to the rest of the population. How were they putting themselves in so much danger? What were they doing differently from everyone else? He began to wonder: What if the most dangerous thing a gay black man could do was what came naturally to him: to date the people he was attracted to, the people he was friends with, the people who surround him?

The subject for this post was derived from this quote:


The small size of the black gay community, and the sheer concentration of the virus within it, makes everyone more vulnerable, no question about it. Dating within the black community means a higher chance of encountering someone who is HIV positive — or worse, someone who is positive but doesn’t know it. But the theory remains stubbornly unproven. It’s a touchy subject. If scientists showed with experimental clarity that black men were putting themselves at risk by dating each other, what advice could they give? That black men should avoid each other?


The citizen: Mickyel Bradford was raised to appreciate that black is beautiful. His celebrity crushes are Idris Elba and Tyson Beckford, tall dark men with seductive baritones and crevassed torsos. He lives in a suburb of Atlanta, the city known to some as the black gay mecca. His closest friends are black. Nearly all of his exes were black.


He describes himself as an “ethical slut.” He believes in sex for sheer hell of it, but goes to great lengths to make sure that he and his partners are safe. Bradford serves on the board of two local gay nonprofits and works at a local clinic. He has to be responsible. It’s a matter of principle as much as it is a matter of health. So when he hooks up, which typically happens a couple times a month, Bradford makes his partners get tested for HIV. Ideally, they go together and make a lunch date out of it. Burgers and a blood test.


The fastidiousness of this ritual can sometimes get in the way of his hormones, but Bradford says his process screens for character as much as it does for STDs. “It’s another judge of quality for me,” he says. “I’m very sure that if you’re are going to go through these steps with me, if you can have a conversation around these things, then the sex is going to be awesome.”


These days, Bradford says, he never has bad sex.



My title for this post was pulled from this quote which was also obtained from the Washington Post's article.


Sullivan’s preliminary results in Atlanta confirmed the huge racial differences that persist. Among black gay men, 43 percent were HIV positive, compared to 13 percent of white gay men, even though the black gay men had fewer sex partners and less unprotected sex. Everyone also reported a tendency to date within the same race. Black gay men said that 80 percent of their partners in the past year were also black. The white gay men said that 73 percent of their partners were also white.

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When I read the this article


The black HIV epidemic: A public health mystery—and love story—from Atlanta’s gay community
A journey with the researchers and citizens struggling with the troubling disparity in HIV diagnoses.


I could not help but be struck by the numbers so very alarming--42% infection rate!  Atlanta is one of America's great cities, not some third world country, how can this be the case?  The article points out this group Black men are less promiscuous and more likely to use a condom than their white male peers.  So tragic.

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NOTE: Our editors actually put up a correction on the story removing the Mickyel Bradford passages because he admitted to fabricating them.


I find these revelations so irksome, it just seems to me that a story like this, not breaking news, could have been vetted before being published.  I was talking to someone else about this article--relating Mickyel's experiences.  Now I learn he made them all up...Sheesh!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Couple points.............

1. When people wonder why gay men are more likely to have HIV than straight men, I point out that it's simple physics.

Unless a straight man is constantly licking and drinking the vaginal fluids and urine of his female sexual partner, he's not really "absorbing" a large amount of infected bodily fluids from the person he's having sex with.

However with gay men, they're constantly ejaculating semen into eachother. And if that semen is infected ofcourse the rate is going to be higher.

2. HIV (which is clearly man made) I believe was designed specifically for Black/African genetics. I've heard from more than one source that even with the same type of exposure it's harder for Whites to actually get HIV than people of African decent.

So it's not suprising that such a high percentage of gay men of African decent would be HIV positive.

I don't believe that AIDS or HIV (and there is a difference between the two) is a "curse" put upon gay men or the Black race. However I DO believe that the spread of diseases like HIV and Ebola occurs when you're too lazy or indifferent to take your health and it's care into your own hands and develop medicines and therapies designed by and for you.

As long as our people are lining up by the thousands and millions expecting White people to treat them and cure them and come up with medicines to solve thier problems, you can continue to expect high incidences of disease.

  • Like 1
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1. Sure it is less likely for a straight man to contract HIV from a female partner, than a gay man to get it from a another man.


2. I'm not sure where HIV came from, but your theory would certainly explain the apparently inexplicable difference in infection rates when white and Black male homosexuals.


3. It funny you should say that.  Not that white folks are becoming addicted to heroin and the scourge is impacting white communities the cops are now being trained to help addicts.  In fact cops are being given medications to stop addict who are in the process of over dosing.  When it was Black and brown people in the 'hood, cops just locked folks up, busted heads or let them die. 


I guess since HIV effected many white people early on, we now have medications that allow people to live with HIV--it is no longer a death sentence.  Black people benefit from this. 

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Look at the Ebola epidemic in West Africa right now.

People dying by the hundreds and there's rioting in the streets of Liberia right now because the people aren't trusting the government or the U.N..  But the 2 White doctors who caught Ebola while overthere were brought back to the United States and cured within a couple weeks.


Just another example of how we need to stop relying on other people to solve our problems because it's clear they usually don't have our best interests in mind.

Speaking of heroin.........

I'm not sure about New York but here in Michigan the heroin problem is a plague of almost the proverbial "biblical" level.

Hospitals are full from heroin related problems.

Help wanted signs have popped up all over the place because they can't keep workers. Many of them have become addicted and end up overdosing, quitting, or being fired because of emotional instability.
Atleast people COULD work on crack....on that "smack" all they can do is go to sleep.

I thought we saw the last of heroin after the 70s and early 80s.
I still remember the "heroin dens" of Detroit where entire families would flop around in vacant buildings and warehouses by the hundred living and shooting-up.
I didn't think those days would come back.....but it appears that they are.

The medical industry is partially to blame because so many people have been put on prescription pain killers and when they build up a tolerance and they no longer are effective in killing whatever pain they're suffering from....the next step is often heroin which is known to kill all physical pain.

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  • 1 year later...

Who pays for all the black people that come into the ED where I work with no insurance and no job and wacked out of their minds on drugs and HIV positive and get free service and will never be billed? Want to whine about the white MD that will provide that service? 

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What does "ED" stand for?  

The rest of us pay for uninsured sick people.  While the unemployed, HIV infected, uninsured, drug addicts may not pay, someone pays for the services rendered.  Besdies how many people are we talking about here--especially in a world with Obama Care?


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  • 4 months later...
Guest commonsense

I'm a nursing student so I will reply based facts versus conspiracy theory.

The main reason why rates are so high among black gays versus white gays is simple.  Better access to care.  White gay men who become infected are 1.  More likely to get tested often. 2. More likely to get into care and therapy.  HIV + individuals who get on life saving treatment as soon as possible 1. Live much longer. 2. Are more likely to have their viral loads suppressed which makes it very difficult (but no impossible) to spread the virus to someone else.

There is a huge stigma in the black community regarding HIV.  Which leads to less people getting tested and less people getting on (and staying on) life saving therapy to not only prolong their lives (which studies have shown people who stay on treatment live as long as negative people) but it also helps in keeping the virus from spreading in the viral loads become suppressed.   

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Guest Com' on Sense

Oh guest, come on.........

With all that common sense you have you should KNOW that being HIV positive has NOTHING to do with "access" to health-care.  Yes, proper treatment will prevent your viral load from overwhelming your immune system, but either way except for a miracle you're still HIV positive.
So how would "access to healthcare" or the lack there of effect one's HIV status?

Being EXPOSED to the virus is the only thing that determines how much of a population is infected, not the amount of healthcare they have access to once exposed.

To draw an analogy......

If I point to an impoverished city and find out that half of the people in that town came down with lung cancer, their diagnosis has NOTHING to do with their  financial status.  Their TREATMENT and ability to pay for it may, but that lack of proper treatment isn't what initially caused the cancer.   They were exposed to something in the city that caused it.

If half of the gay Black men in Atlanta are HIV positive while most of the gay White men are not, that means more gay Black men were EXPOSED to the virus .
And there has to be a definate reason for this.

By your own admission, you're still a student.
So I hope you keep searching until you find the REAL reason for this.

And perhaps you'll come back and share it with us.

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  • 7 months later...
Guest Vanbryant@gmail.com

There.is.a need to.be aware of making.wise  choices when having sex with some.one .chose to have some one you care about and always use protection



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