Silent epidemic: black gay men in US face 50-50 risk of HIV


The risk of contracting HIV is one in two if you are a black man in the US who has sex with men. This statistic is all the more startling because so few people are aware of it.“I was feeling very sick” says Daryon McCurdy, “so I went to the doctor and they said, ‘Okay, you have gonorrhea and acute HIV.’ I was so shocked.” The 25-year-old was diagnosed with HIV in August 2017, three years after moving to Atlanta, the black gay capital of the US. The city provides a coming-of-age setting for men from across the US. For those from the south, it can be lifesaving.

The deep south is a notoriously tough place to grow up black and gay, as McCurdy knows too well. In his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, he was outed by rumours that started at school and ended with his parents. “My stepdad said ‘If I hear one more thing about you being gay in middle school, I’ll ship you back to your dad’.” Years of bullying at school and at home were to follow.For men who grow up gay in the south, this kind of shame and stigma makes them less likely to seek information about, and protection for, their sex lives. Closeted sex is inherently dangerous, because it happens in places where it is not safe to talk openly to people who may be able to help. What follows can be a lack of knowledge about safe sex or a huge underestimation of the risk of infection.(theguardian)…[+]