A former White House science advisor visiting Australia says governments need to look harder at the social factors driving recent increases in Western HIV rates, particularly ‘homo-negativity’ from religious and ethnic communities.
Dr Judith Auerbach, who is now vice president of science and public policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, will address increasing infection rates among men who have sex with men at the 2009 Australasian Sexual Health and HIV conferences in Brisbane this week.
“HIV infection rates among gay men have increased steadily since the 1990s, while they’ve declined among most other population groups. The epidemic is still overwhelmingly among gay men,” Auerbach told the Sydney Star Observer.
New estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control claim men who have sex with men are 50 times more likely to have HIV than other men and women.
Higher rates of depression and alcohol and substance abuse among adult gay men have consistently been linked to HIV acquisition risk, Auerbach said.
“It’s all connected to being gay in a homo-negative culture. The background of gay men’s lives can have an ultimately very complicated pathway to acquisition and transmission of HIV.