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  • Writer's pictureCarl Jackson

From Awareness to Action: Observing National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Every year on September 27th, we observe National Gay Men’s HIV Awareness Day, a dedicated day to shed light on the impact of HIV/AIDS within the Gay community and advocate for the four pillars of ending the HIV epidemic: Diagnose, Treat, Prevent, and Respond.

In the early '80s, HIV/AIDS was often seen as a death sentence for Gay men. Scientists and healthcare professionals faced numerous challenges in understanding the disease's causes and transmission, making the quest for treatment all the more complex. Today, HIV/AIDS still disproportionately affects Gay and Bisexual men, emphasizing the critical importance of awareness in combating stigma and controlling the virus's spread.

It's a stark reality that around 63% of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are Gay men. This segment of the population is undeniably the most impacted by HIV. Hence, it is crucial for all Gay men to be aware of their HIV status and, if sexually active, undergo testing at least once a year.

Data from 2019 tells us that out of 36,801 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas, 69% (25,552) were among gay and bisexual men. Alarmingly, an estimated 15% of gay and bisexual men with HIV in the same year were unaware of their status. Knowing one's HIV status, whether positive or negative, empowers individuals to take charge of their health.

For those who test positive for HIV, there is hope. Several treatment options, notably antiretroviral medications, are highly effective, and allow people to live healthy, long lives. Swift access to care post-diagnosis significantly improves the chances of viral load suppression, with the goal of achieving an undetectable viral load. Individuals who are undetectable rarely transmit the virus sexually (99% of the time) and also significantly reduce transmission among IV drug users (74%).

For Gay men who are HIV negative but concerned about contracting the virus, there's also hope. PrEP medication (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is available as a pill or injectable to prevent HIV exposure. If you are interested in PrEP, we encourage you to complete a profile at We can assist you in enrolling in PrEP at little or no cost.

While we've made significant progress since the onset of HIV/AIDS in the United States, responding to future outbreaks requires evidence-based practices. Although discovering a cure is a lengthy process, we now possess tools to reduce and potentially eliminate the spread of new HIV infections. Here at Arkansas RAPPS, we are committed to being part of the solution. Together, we can make a difference.

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