OVER HALF OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV IN TEXAS ARE GAY/BI MEN.
After the more than three decades since the epidemic began, generations of gay men continue to be impacted by HIV.
In the summer of 1981, the Centers for Disease Control released a report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly documenting cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Pneumonia in gay men. In 1982, the unknown disease was labeled gay-related immune deficiency or GRID. Later that year, the CDC began using the term AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). In May 1986, the virus that causes AIDS is officially called HIV.
Since those early days of HIV in the United States, almost 300,000 gay/bi men have died of HIV.
The United States government was slow in responding to the growing HIV epidemic. In truth, the Reagan Administration treated AIDS as a joke. In his short documentary When AIDS Was Funny, Scott Calonico shares White House Press briefings where the press secretary and the press corps laugh and joke about questions raised regarding the new epidemic among gay men.
It would be another 3 years before President Reagan publicly mentions AIDS
IN TEXAS, A GAY/BI MAN IS DIAGNOSED WITH HIV EVERY 3 HOURS.
Due to the lack of support, LGBTQ communities across the country rallied together to support the people they loved who were living with and dying from HIV. Many grassroots organizations developed into the AIDS Service Organizations that continue to provide support, prevention, and treatment today.
ACT UP was formed in 1987 as a response to the indifference of the US Government. The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power’s first action was a protest against profiteering pharmaceutical companies and access to medications. For years, gay men and others banded together through ACT UP to demand attention and support for the ever growing HIV epidemic in the US.
Today, HIV continues to impact gay/bi men at higher rates than other vulnerable populations.
EVERY 3 HOURS, A GAY/BI MAN CONTRACTS HIV IN TEXAS
Gay men of color, particularly Latinx gay men are particularly impacted by HIV. To end the HIV epidemic, we must do more to support these communities, to ensure that prevention strategies like PrEP are available and easily accessible and that the needed treatment and care for those living with HIV is provided without stigma, condemnation, or discrimination.