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HIV Disproportionately Affects Members of the LGBTQ+ Community

Omaira Mahan

Posted on May 30, 2021 19:16

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The HIV Epidemic continues to disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that affects the body's immune system, weakening its ability to fight off infections and disease. HIV can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which is the most chronic phase of HIV. Patients who have AIDS typically survive for up to three years. Although HIV can be contracted through many ways and can affect anyone, the epidemic is disproportionately affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among the 37,968 new diagnoses of HIV in 2018, 69% were among gay and bisexual men. Additionally, 37% of those diagnosed were Black/African American men and 30% were Hispanic/Latino.

The issue lies within the lack of access to HIV prevention resources. Gilead is a pharmaceutical company that makes Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that is consumed daily and can reduce the risk of HIV through sexual contact by over 90%. Without insurance, the pill is over $2,000 a month. With insurance, the price can be as little as zero dollars. Although Truvada is more accessible than ever, many members of the LGBTQ+ community are unable to access it due to financial struggles and lack of insurance, which would cover the cost of the pill.

According to Aids Map, 74% of Truvada prescription users are white men, while only 12% are Latino, and 10% are black men. Many LGBTQ+ members who live in low-income, urban areas are unable to access this pill because they cannot afford healthcare insurance, which helps covers it. Therefore, they are at greater risk in contracting HIV. 

Because most states do not have laws against sexual orientation-based or gender-based discrimination, LGBTQ+ members are at risk of discrimination which often leads to poverty. Many turn to sex work in order to economically stay afloat and provide for themselves. According to Survivors Against SESTA, LGBTQ+ identified youth are seven times more likely to trade sex for a place to stay compared to heterosexual youth. This issue places LGBTQ+ members who are suffering to make ends meet at a greater risk of contracting HIV. 

HIV is still an ongoing epidemic in the United States that affects members of the LGBTQ+ community who live in low-income areas. Lack of access to health care and turning to sex work as a means of survival places them at a higher risk for contracting HIV. HIV prevention and awareness programs must expand to low-income areas and provide accessible resources for LGBTQ+ members in order for them to stay safe and protected. 

Omaira Mahan

Posted on May 30, 2021 19:16

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Source: HuffPost

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