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Author Topic: Important Article in the NY Times tomorrow: the rise of HIV in Gay Men in NYC  (Read 1513 times)

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Offline seekingtruth75

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New H.I.V. Cases Drop, but Rise in Young Gay Men
By SARAH KERSHAW

For years he had numbed his pain and fear with drugs, alcohol and anonymous sex. But in a flash of clarity one day, when the crystal meth was wearing off, Javier Arriola dragged himself to a clinic to get an H.I.V. test, years after he stopped using condoms.

He knew the answer before he received the results, but it was far worse than he thought: At age 29, he had full-blown AIDS.

He had planned to have a party for his 30th birthday. Instead he was thinking of hanging himself in his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.

“There were feelings of terror, like when you were a little kid and there’s that thing that terrifies you,” he said. “This was it. The worst nightmare, and I brought this onto myself.”

The number of new H.I.V. infections in men under 30 who have sex with men has increased sharply in New York City in the last five years, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, even as AIDS deaths and overall H.I.V. infection rates in the city have steadily declined.

New figures from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that the annual number of new infections among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men rose 34 percent between 2001 and 2006, and rose for all men under 30 who have sex with men by 32 percent.

At a time when the number of new cases among older gay men is dropping — by 22 percent in New York City during the same period — AIDS experts are bearing down on what they say is a worrisome and perplexing growth of H.I.V. infection among young men like Mr. Arriola.

So far, they say, the significant factors feeding the trend appear to be higher rates of drug use among younger men, which can fuel dangerous sex practices, optimism among them that AIDS can be readily treated, and a growing stigma about H.I.V. among gays that keeps some men from revealing that they are infected. There has also been a substantial increase in the number of new infection cases among young white men who have sex with men, but still that group had fewer new cases in 2006: 100, compared with 228 among blacks and 165 among Hispanics.

The rising rates for young men in New York City come as federal health officials acknowledge that infection rates nationwide, while flat, may be substantially higher than previously thought because of underreporting.

The highest rates of H.I.V. infection nationally are among gays, blacks and Hispanics, with a recent trend toward a younger infected population mirroring New York City’s experience, according to AIDS researchers, who say they are concerned that the country’s infection rates over all have not declined in the past 10 years.

“It’s really unconscionable that we haven’t had a decrease in new infections in the past decade in the United States,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, chief of infectious diseases at Harlem Hospital Center and a professor of public health at Columbia University. “It’s not anymore in the headlines; many people think it’s gone away, and it hasn’t gone away.”

AIDS activists and medical providers say the rates among young men could signal a new wave of the disease.

“Unless you start pulling it apart, unless you start looking at really addressing this and talking honestly, unless you start talking about it in a real way,” said Soraya Elcock, deputy director for policy at Harlem United Community Aids Center, in a neighborhood that has one of the highest infection rates in the city, “we’ll be here in another 20 years having the same conversation.”

As a young, black gay man, Lynonell Edmonds says it seems like a miracle that he has not contracted the AIDS virus. Before he turned 20, he had a haunting realization: in his group of 20 close gay friends, he was the only one without H.I.V.

Mr. Edmonds, now 25, does outreach work for the Harlem AIDS center, trolling Craigslist and other online meeting spots as a “sexpert,” encouraging men to be tested. He and a crew of outreach workers also go to gay nightclubs late at night, with a van carrying H.I.V. tests that can be conducted on the spot. The crew parks the van, which has no obvious signs of its mission, on the street. When they go into the clubs, they make conversation and delicately inquire whether a clubgoer would like to take the test.

Mr. Edmonds said that for many gay black men there is a sense that getting the virus is almost inevitable.

“A lot of guys say, ‘I’m going to get it anyway,’” Mr. Edmonds said.

Mr. Edmonds and other gay men say the stigma of being infected with H.I.V. is growing, and may be greater now than it was in the 1990s, when the AIDS epidemic became a unifying cause, a shared tragedy for gay men.

“I call it, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Mr. Edmonds said. “People are not asking — it’s like it’s an offensive question.”

Kyle, who found out that he had the virus two years ago, at the age of 23, said he had grown weary of what he called “pity dates,” men who agreed to go out with him after he revealed he was infected, but had no intention of pursuing a relationship. He said that out of about 10 men he had dated in the last two years, only one — who was, at 40, the oldest — was willing to go beyond pity dates.

“They blame you and want nothing to do with you; they put you at the end of the line,” said Kyle, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used because he said he believed his condition would hurt him professionally. “The older generation sees AIDS as a tragedy, the younger generation sees it as self-destructive behavior.”

He said he was infected by someone who did not reveal that he had the virus until after they had unprotected sex.

For Mr. Arriola, who struggled with being molested as a child, the H.I.V. diagnosis put him at rock bottom, he said.

He continued to use drugs for several more months, but then, as his suicide plan was becoming an obsession, he called a friend who was a recovering addict. He got clean and sober, joined a 12-step group, started going to therapy and has slowly pieced his life back together.

“For me today, I’ve done a lot of work to accept myself. I don’t drink and drug, I meditate, there’s a lot of visualization of the person I want to be,” he said. “A lot of it is acceptance. I’m 32, I’m Latin, I’m gay and I have H.I.V. And I don’t feel bad about it. It’s very, very important for me to not feel shame about this.”

As the face of the epidemic grows younger, city health officials acknowledge that their efforts — including a widespread condom distribution program, new investments in education programs at places including churches, and more availability of H.I.V. testing — are falling short.

“It leaves us a little bit scratching our heads: What is it that is going on?” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. “Something clearly is not working, and it’s literally about life or death.”

The city, which has the highest number of AIDS cases in the nation, about 100,000, and one of the highest H.I.V. infection rates, according to the health department, has made great strides in bringing down H.I.V. rates among intravenous drug users and pregnant women. The department, which is giving out three million condoms a month in a program begun last year, has also recently announced several efforts to expand rapid testing, which provides results within a day.

The city’s health commissioner, Thomas R. Frieden, said in an interview that the increasing rates among younger men was being driven by stubbornly high rates of substance abuse, involving drugs like crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, which not only reduce inhibitions but can also lead to “hypersexuality”: extended periods of sexual activity, potentially with multiple partners.

Dr. Frieden also said that another likely explanation was “treatment optimism,” and the many messages gay men receive through AIDS drug advertisements that people like Mr. Arriola can live long and normal lives.

“People who grew up watching their friends die of AIDS are a lot more careful than those who didn’t,” said Dr. Frieden, who said he cared for large numbers of AIDS patients in his earlier medical practice.

He said the department was planning to begin a new H.I.V. prevention campaign aimed at younger men, and a new marketing strategy for their condom campaign later this year. “When’s the last time we saw someone with lesions walking through Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen?” said Victoria Sharp, director of the Center for Comprehensive Care, which is currently providing medical care and other services to 3,000 H.I.V. patients at Roosevelt Hospital and in Harlem. “You don’t see it, and we haven’t seen it since the mid-1990s, so there is a whole generation or two who have grown up without seeing the physical manifestations.”

Health officials said they were also concerned about the growing number of patients receiving concurrent diagnoses of both H.I.V. and AIDS, after waiting too long to be tested. And while some policymakers say more aggressive testing could partly explain the higher infection rates, experts say one in four people with H.I.V. do not know they are infected, so the actual rates could be much higher.

Since receiving the AIDS diagnosis, Mr. Arriola, now 32, has developed a large group of sober friends, become a licensed real estate broker, repainted his apartment — all things that seemed impossible to imagine in the darkness of his drug use and when he learned he had the disease.

Then, he said he would look in the mirror and see the worthless person he believed he was. “I won’t make it to 35,” he would say.

But these days, with the antiviral drugs he takes, about five pills a day, his health is good, he said. Around his apartment, he has posted upbeat messages to himself, like the one on his mirror, where he has written “thank you.”

On the refrigerator he has a list of goals: “Write a book, own New York City property, spread love, own a business (20 million), get a college degree, run a triathlon, have a family (partner, car with driver and kids) and 190 pounds (muscle).”
Found out + on 4.20.07

4.20.07       CD4s 200     VL 37182
5.25.07       CD4s 242     VL 84000
7.17.07       CD4s 217     VL >100000
8.24.07       CD4s 118     VL 45303
10.05.07     CD4s 75       VL >100000
11.06.07     CD4s 60       VL 50361
12.05.07     CD4s 70       VL 55306
started Atripla on New Years Eve
1.21.08       CD4s 65       VL 435
2.28.08       CD4s 51       VL undetectable

Offline StrongGuy

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  • Posts: 492
There is not a single point in that article I could disagree with. Living here in NYC I'd say the author did a really accurate analysis from my vantage point.

Wish there were some easy answers to get the message out and get people to protect themsleves but I have no idea what will work without trying to royally scare the f-ck out of people with over the top messaging (a method I don't subscribe to).




« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 12:15:53 AM by StrongGuy »
"Get your medical advice from Doctors or medical professionals who you trust and know your history."

"Beware of the fortune teller doom and gloomers who seek to bring you down and are only looking for company, purpose and validation - not your best physical/mental interests."

"You know you all are saying that this is incurable. When the real thing you should be saying is it's not curable at the present time' because as we know, the great strides we've made in medicine." - Elizabeth Edwards

Online Miss Philicia

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It's an OK article.  There was a better one in The New Yorker 2 years ago about the confluence of rising infection rates, meth and the internet.  This one doesn't once mention that latter element.
"I’ve slept with enough men to know that I’m not gay"

Offline komnaes

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  • Posts: 1,893
A similar article appears in Hong Kong too, focusing on a number of infectious disease:

MRSA cases likely to double, expert warns
 
Ella Lee
Updated on Jan 02, 2008

A drug-resistant superbug will continue to spread in the community this year, with the number of infections likely to be double that of last year, the head of the Centre for Health Protection has warned. The number of community-acquired cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) could be expected to rise from 166 in 2007 (up to December 27) to about 300 this year, Thomas Tsang Hoi-fai said.

The bacteria, resistant even to some of the strongest antibiotics, can cause skin and blood infections and pneumonia. Community-acquired MRSA was listed as a notifiable disease in January last year. The centre has been appealing for doctors and patients to use antibiotics properly to avoid further emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.

Dr Tsang said that as well as reporting by doctors, all public accident and emergency departments and public clinics would start active surveillance in the first quarter this year. Doctors would screen patients who had wounds with pus for community-acquired MRSA. The centre would also test samples collected by private doctors.

"With this enhanced surveillance, we expect that the number of cases we spot will increase. There could be well over 200 cases or even 300 cases in 2008," he said.

Among the 70 cases reported during the first six months of last year, Chinese accounted for 43 cases and Filipinos 16. "It is a rather high percentage among these ethnic groups and we are trying to find out the reason," Dr Tsang said.

Cases of another infectious disease, chickenpox, have risen significantly over the past four years. There were 6,780 cases in 2003, rising to 17,729 last year. The centre's scientific committee will soon discuss a cost-effectiveness study by the University of Hong Kong on whether the government should provide free chickenpox and pneumococcal vaccine to all newborns.

Some doctors have been calling for free vaccination for the 40,000-odd babies born in the city each year, saying the vaccines, which cost HK$500 to HK$600 per shot in private clinics, are too dear for poor families.

Dengue fever is also on the rise in the city. The number of cases rose from 31 in 2004 to 58 last year.

Looking ahead, Dr Tsang said the spread of HIV among men who had sex with men was "worrying".

A large cluster of HIV infections with a very similar genetic sequence was detected in 2005. By the middle of last year, the cluster had affected 66 people. Two other HIV clusters have affected 12 and eight people. Most of the cases in the three clusters were men who had sex with men. Dr Tsang said the centre would work with non-governmental organisations to promote safe sex.

In the coming year, the centre will also develop a new diseases information system to investigate outbreaks. It will be able to locate patients with infectious diseases in different districts and even buildings and plot them on a computer screen.

Medical Association president Choi Kin said yesterday the centre needed to get extra resources to set up larger sentinel surveillance networks among private doctors.

-----------

My question though, not being ever a user of meth, does it really impair judgment so severely that it's the cause of people not using condoms? During my, er, slutty year that led to my HIV status I had been to a number of, er, "parties", in which almost everyone were high on e, but no unsafe sex ever took place. Is the effect of ecstasy very different from meth?

Shaun
Aug 07 Diagnosed
Oct 07 CD4=446(19%) Feb 08 CD4=421(19%)
Jun 08 CD4=325(22%) Jul 08 CD4=301(18%)
Sep 08 CD4=257/VL=75,000 Oct 08 CD4=347(16%)
Dec 08 CD4=270(16%)
Jan 09 CD4=246(13%)/VL=10,000
Feb 09 CD4=233(15%)/VL=13,000
Started meds Sustiva/Epzicom
May 09 CD4=333(24%)/VL=650
Aug 09 CD4=346(24%)/VL=UD
Nov 09 CD4=437(26%)/VL=UD
Feb 10 CD4=471(31%)/VL=UD
June 10 CD4=517 (28%)/VL=UD
Sept 10 CD4=687 (31%)/VL=UD
Jan 11 CD4=557 (30%)/VL=UD
April 11 CD4=569 (32%)/VL=UD
Switched to Epizcom, Reyataz and Norvir
(Interrupted for 2 months with only Epizcom & Reyataz)
July 11 CD=520 (28%)/VL=UD
Oct 11 CD=771 (31%)/VL=UD(<30)
April 12 CD=609 (28%)/VL=UD(<20)
Aug 12 CD=657 (29%)/VL=UD(<20)
Dec 12 CD=532 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
May 13 CD=567 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
Jan 14 CD=521 (21%)/VL=UD(<50)

Offline next2u

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among the meth induced sex or the lack of a visible aids spector there are other factors that are impeding young people from having safer sex. speaking solely for myself, i know i was tired of having the conversation and bringing up condom use (over the last 10 years i only remember 2 others that initiated the conversation), i really wanted someone else to do it. also, there were some pretty fucked up issues of trust circling in my head and there was a growing apathy that fueled the stupid condomless sex. i know the latter two options may seem minor, but they definitely played a large part in my infection.

lastly, though hiv infection rates are rising in poc (people of color) communities, i wish these articles would stress safer sex in all communities. young people may begin erroneously believing that it is okay to have riskier sex with non poc people. all people have to be treated as potential carriers, not just poc.

 
midapr07 - seroconversion
sept07 - tested poz
oct07 cd4 1013; vl 13,900; cd4% 41
feb08 cd4  694;  vl 16,160; cd4% 50.1
may08 cd4 546; vl 91,480; cd4% 32
aug08 cd4 576; vl 48,190; cd4% 40.7
dec08 cd4 559; vl 63,020; cd4% 29.4
feb09 cd4 464; vl 11,000; cd4% 26
may09 cd4 544; vl 29,710; cd4% 27.2
oct09 cd4 ...; vl 23,350; cd4% 31.6
mar10 cd4 408; vl 59,050; cd4% 31.4
aug10 cd4 328; vl 80,000; cd4% 19.3 STARTED ATRIPLA
oct10 cd4 423; vl 410 ;); cd4% 30.2
jun11 cd4 439; vl <20 ;); cd4% 33.8 <-Undetectable!
mar12 cd4 695; vl ud; cd4% 38.6
jan13 cd4 738; vl ud; cd4% 36.8
aug13 cd4 930; vl ud; cd4% 44.3

Offline allopathicholistic

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speaking solely for myself, i know i was tired of having the conversation and bringing up condom use  

Quote
“I call it, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Mr. Edmonds said. “People are not asking — it’s like it’s an offensive question.”

Quote
experts say one in four people with H.I.V. do not know they are infected, so the actual rates could be much higher.

I remember in the 90's one guy up in Boston asked me if I've ever been tested for HIV and I remember I wasn't offended but I remember thinking heh, this guy is excessively cautious. I told him I tested negative once but not since then and then I went on to say that I thought AIDS was caused by overuse of street narcotics. Oddly enough he asked me after we had unprotected sex. As it turned out, on that day [of the deed] I was neg because I remember testing neg twice more in that decade. (Even though I had it in my mind that AIDS was a "drug abuse thing" I was still testing and pretty much laughing when my results came back neg (except for the first ever test, I was sweating bullets then)) ...Another guy in NYC asked "Are we gonna use condoms?" and I said no and he was happy with that answer. Other than those 2 it was pretty much get naked & go and I don't mean just a few guys, we're talking quite a few, the bulk coming in 1998-2000. I hope the climate is different these days although I have no way of knowing as I don't sleep around anymore. What a quandary when [most] dudes hate condoms  :-[

Offline allopathicholistic

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Quote
“When’s the last time we saw someone with lesions walking through Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen?” said Victoria Sharp, director of the Center for Comprehensive Care, which is currently providing medical care and other services to 3,000 H.I.V. patients at Roosevelt Hospital and in Harlem. “You don’t see it, and we haven’t seen it since the mid-1990s, so there is a whole generation or two who have grown up without seeing the physical manifestations.”

To answer the question in the quote, waybackwhen I had never personally seen anyone with lesions in Chelsea and even if I did I probably would've told myself "oh he probably does tons of drugs and booze." I started hanging out in Chelsea in 1992 at age 21 so, to me, lesions were in Time magazine, documentaries, etc.

Offline redhotmuslbear

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“When’s the last time we saw someone with lesions walking through Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen?” said Victoria Sharp, director of the Center for Comprehensive Care, which is currently providing medical care and other services to 3,000 H.I.V. patients at Roosevelt Hospital and in Harlem. “You don’t see it, and we haven’t seen it since the mid-1990s, so there is a whole generation or two who have grown up without seeing the physical manifestations.”


I've been ranting much the same thing for the last five years or so, that the best deterrent against unprotected sex was having a significant number of people out and about wasting and dealing with KS.  And the babble I often hear about party drugs in the club scene and barebacking en masse coming at a "time of celebration" following the appearance of HAART only reinforces that notion.  Heck, I even said that I'd go off meds to provide an example, but then I went off meds and found my body's response to be rather unusual, so much so that I'm reticent to offer myself publicly as a longtime HIVer for fear of others getting the wrong impression.
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." - BF Skinner
12-31-09   222wks VL  2430 CD4 690 (37%)
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10-19-07   112wks off meds:   VL 292  CD4 857(37%/0.85 ratio)

One copy of delta-32 for f*****d up CCR5 receptors, and an HLA B44+ allele for "CD8-mediated immunity"... beteer than winning Powerball, almost!

 


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