Viewpoint: A culturally transmitted disease?

Published: November 2, 2014

The Michigan Daily
Jaikob Djerf
Original Article:

On July 11, the World Health Organization announced its recommendation for all men who have sex with men (MSM) to begin taking antiretroviral drugs as a precaution to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. This came as a shock to many Americans who in recent years haven’t read or heard many news stories about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Since the initial HIV/AIDS epidemic started in the 1980s, rates of HIV transmission in the United States have generally remained stable. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s estimated that 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and that one out of six don’t know that they have HIV.

The group in the United States that remains most affected by HIV/AIDS is MSM. HIV infection in the United States has declined in every group except gay/bisexual men. Rates of HIV infection have actually been increasing among this group. From 2008 to 2010, the rate of new HIV infections for MSM climbed 12 percent. In 2010, MSM made up approximately 4 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 63 percent of all new HIV infections.

In 2010, women accounted for 20 percent of all new HIV infections, and 84 percent of these were attributed to heterosexual contact. In that same year, “white MSM continued to account for the largest number of new HIV infections,” according to the CDC.

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