Why Do Gay People Get HIV?
Why do gay people get HIV?
Why Do Gay People Get HIV? Why are gay men at higher risk of getting HIV? There are many reasons why homosexual men are at the among the highest ranking group of people who are most susceptible to getting HIV. One of the most prevalent reasons is the engagement of anal sex, which is, BY FAR, the easiest way for the virus to transmit. Let’s delve into the most important details about why gay people get infected so easily.
What percentage of gay men have HIV? The (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that a whopping 70% of all new HIV infections in the year 2019 alone involve gay men. Based on this rate, one-third of them were Black men. This portrays that HIV infection can be more widespread in gay men of color; however, it is essential to note that poor access to health care could also be the reason.
On the other hand, the UNAIDS (United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) further reported that MSM (men who have sex with men) are 25 times more likely to get HIV than women and other groups of people. This later explains why HIV is more common in gay men and MSM.
Anal sex without condom use
Engaging in unprotected anal sex puts you at risk of HIV acquisition. Although not all MSM and gay men immerse in anal sex, it is one of the main reasons why the numbers of HIV infections continue to rise. But how does this happen? It’s all about the rectum’s anatomy and structure.
The skin around the anus is thinner compared to the skin surrounding the vagina. The vagina is made of a thick layer of cells that protect the organ. On the other hand, the anus only has a single layer of protective cells, making it susceptible to infection.
In addition, the tissues surrounding the rectum or anus are vulnerable to breakage. When the tissues break, it allows the virus to penetrate the thin layer of cells and thus, the infection begins. Furthermore, the CD4 cells, which are immune cells, are present in the rectal tissues. This makes the cells an easy target for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Societal issues involving HIV infection
Stigma is one of the major issues involving HIV infection. This issue continues to deter advancement in HIV treatment and prevention. Although more countries have already billed same-sex activities, the stigma of HIV infection still lingers. The fear of being discriminated against and judged makes it hard to get the proper care and treatment for people living with the infection.
Gay men, alongside the MSM community, have always been the feature of societal and economic risk factors for HIV infection. Reports say that Black and Hispanic MSM are at higher risk of getting the virus. But why? It involves poverty, unemployment, poor access to health care, and racism. All these factors are responsible for the high cases of HIV in people of race and color.
How to prevent HIV?
There are different ways gay men and MSM prevent the spread and acquisition of HIV. Consider the following:
- Use a condom during sex – Condoms and other protective barrier methods are essential to prevent HIV transmission. Aside from HIV, it also prevents the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections, like herpes and HPV.
- Avoid having multiple sexual partners – If you engage in unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners, you are at risk of acquiring HIV.
- Take PrEP – Also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP involves the use of antiretroviral drugs that prevent the transmission of the virus into your body. The different types of PrEP medications include Truvada and Descovy.
- Get tested – If you are sexually active, get tested regularly. Medical professionals encourage people to get tested for HIV every 3 months.
The Kangaroo Takeaway?
While gay men and MSM have higher HIV rates, this should not conclude that only these people are at risk of HIV infection. Aside from them, women and even children are also susceptible to the infection due to many factors. Furthermore, although there isn’t a cure yet, antiretroviral drugs are available to treat the condition and allow people to live normal and longer lives.