National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

September 27 marks the official National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. While the HVTN likes to think that every day is about honoring gay men, this particular day seeks to bring urgent attention to the lives of many that have long been affected by the HIV epidemic.

This day gives us a chance to pause and thank gay and bisexual men for their commitment to participating in HIV vaccine research and for their courageous advocacy for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment.

A Time for Action
The fact is that the HIV epidemic is far from over for gay men. Consider that:
  • Fifty-three percent of new HIV infections occurred among men who have sex with men (MSM) in 2006

  • From 2001 2006, men who have sex with men (MSM) across all racial and ethnic groups were the only transmission category with significant increases in HIV diagnoses

  • HIV incidence has been increasing steadily among gay and bisexual men since the early 1990s, consistent with increases in reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV diagnoses among MSM

  • Gay men comprise over half of the total number HIV/AIDS cases in the United States

  • Since the disease was first recognized in the early 1980s, more than 487,000 gay and bisexual men in the United States have been diagnosed with AIDS, and more than 274,000 have died.

Despite these numbers, gay men are only tangentially represented in national AIDS Awareness Days. Even today, Ryan White legislation contains language that bars addressing same-gender sexuality from prevention initiatives. An awareness day devoted solely to gay, bisexual, same gender loving, and transgendered men fills a glaring gap in national HIV/AIDS consciousness raising efforts.

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID states, "Gay AIDS activists have fought vocally, tirelessly and successfully to widen access to new treatments and to participate in shaping the HIV/AIDS research agenda. By educating themselves about HIV/AIDS and arguing cogently for improvements to the status quo, gay activists gained a seat at the table to design HIV/AIDS studies. In so doing, they created a new model for the relationship between patients suffering from serious diseases and scientists developing and testing ways to better detect, treat and prevent these diseases.

"National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day marks a time to honor the memories of those whose lives have been taken by this dreadful disease by recommitting ourselves to research to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS."