Thursday, August 18, 2005
46% - "The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!"
HIV Prevalence, Unrecognized Infection, and HIV Testing Among Men Who Have Sex with Men --- Five U.S. Cities, June 2004--April 2005
"So Goosey Poosey joined Cocky Locky, Henny Penny and Chicken Little, and they went along as fast as they could."
Remember the folk tale Chicken Little? Well I have been living a Chicken Little nightmare for the last 10 years or so. A lot of Black gay men have AIDS and HIV. So what else is new? Well, a study published in the most recent MMWR in which 46% of Black gay men in 5 cities were found to be HIV positive, that's what's new. Now, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky and Goosey Poosey all have articles, open letters, social marketing campaigns, and subsequent research designed to address this new and emerging issue. How sweet. The only crazy thing is that this is not a new and emerging issue!!
As recently as 2004 an article published in MMWR suggested that a third of Black MSM at an Historically Black College somewhere in the Carolinas were HIV positive.
In 2002 we heard about young Black MSM in six cities who tested positive: Out of a total 920, 150 tested HIV positive! That's 16% and nearly all of them were unaware of their status.
Remember in 2000, in response to an MMWR article, Chicken Little (All Ya'll), Penny Henny yet in tow, was busy again running to tell the king that the sky was falling.
Again in 2000 we heard that racial and ethic minority men were accounting for an increased number of infections and that among these men African Americans were the most impacted.
For the last 10 years my Chicken Little nightmare has been the image of me working my a#% off to prevent the spread of HIV and every two years looking up to see the motley crew, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Poosey, and Cocky Locky running to tell the king that the sky is falling!
Now once again we're running to tell the king.
"The sky is falling!" cried Chicken Little. "We must tell the king."
"I know a shortcut to the palace," said Foxy woxy sweetly. "Come and follow me."
"But wicked Foxy Woxy did not lead the others to the palace. He led them right up to the entrance of his foxhole. Once they were inside, Foxy Woxy was planning to gobble them up!"
The question that remains for me is: How many researchers, MMWR articles, and morbid study findings do we need to know that it's bad. How long will our HIV prevention efforts be reactionary and guided by hysteria? I've often wondered what kind of a living I could make as a researcher if I, once every two years sent out an email that said: "It's bad, and it's getting worse." I think I could save CDC and countless universities millions of research dollars. Dollars that could quite possibly go to fund the prevention efforts of the organizations that would be charged to react to my declarations.
I say all this to say: It's bad, and it's getting worse. We can't possibly be surprised when these data emerge to remind us. So why are we all running around with chicken little screaming "The sky is falling!"? The sky has been falling for a while! I say, "To hell with the king", cover your head!
"After that day, Chicken Little always carried an umbrella with her when she walked in the woods..."