Why Does HIV Disproportionately Impact the LGBTQ Community?
HIV doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status. Anyone can contract HIV. So why is it that the LGBTQ community has some of the highest HIV infection rates in the United States? The answer stems from a combination of insufficient funding for public health programs, discrimination, and an opposition to prevention policies.
According to the most recent data (from 2014) gay men have the highest chance of contracting HIV in America.
- There are 1.2 million people living with HIV (PLWH) in the United States.
- Though gay and bisexual men make up 2% of the population, they account for 55% of all PLWH.
- If this diagnosis rate continues, that means that 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men will contract HIV in their lifetime.
- The likelihood of infection is even higher for gay and bisexual African American men — where 1 in 2 gay men are HIV-positive.
- Gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% of new HIV diagnoses among all men 13 and older in 2014.
- Gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of 2014’s new HIV diagnoses.
- In some areas, transgender individuals are 49 times more likely to have HIV than the rest of the population. However, the CDC suggests that enough information on HIV and the transgender community has not been gathered to make any nationwide projections.
Discrimination and HIV
We have more tools than ever before to prevent the spread of HIV, so why are gay men still contracting it at such a high rate? One of the major reasons is discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It’s still legal in many states to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation, so LGBTQ people don’t have the same access to housing, jobs, and public services. Without a home, job, or insurance, it’s highly unlikely that a person would be able to afford preventative measures, like PrEP.
In the face of extreme and repeated discrimination, many transgender people have had to turn to sex work just to meet their most basic needs — an act that makes someone 5 times more likely to contract HIV.
Lack of HIV Awareness and Funding
Many schools in America continue to teach abstinence-only sexual education, a program that time and time again has not been able to effectively reduce the rate of sexual activity. Without comprehensive sex ed in schools, many people continue to have sex, unaware of the consequences. A lack of funding for national public health programs (as well as funding in favor of abstinence-only programs) is also a major problem in the country.
CIRCLE CARE Center provides comprehensive and state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS care and support. Patients have a choice of providers and a range of services that are available at our clinic, including 20-minute HIV and Hepatitis C testing, HIV education, Sexual Health Counseling, and so much more.