Sunday, September 23, 2012

The CDC, HIV, and LGBT: A New Response To An Old Argument

Earlier tonight I had a conversation with someone who tweeted an infographic at me out of the blue about the horrors of STDs (HIV particularly) among youth.  Also mentioned in the tweet was Chris Kluwe, the relatively widely known pro-LGBT punter for the Minnesota Vikings.  Yes, the tweeter's motivations were anti-LGBT.  You can read my feed yourselves and see how I proved that the tweeter: is anti-LGBT, did not read any of the referenced infographic's cited sources and thus could not verify their accuracy, does not think that footnotes matter on infographics, does not care about heterosexuals with HIV, does not know or is willfully ignorant that the CDC specifically mentions factors other than risk when researching STDs, and is the kind of religious that makes its money hating gays.

But that's hardly the point.  The point is that the CDC has confirmed that HIV is present in higher rates in LGBT individuals.  As you can imagine, it's a popular talking point for the anti-LGBT lobby.  It's Porno Peter LaBarbera's favorite tidbit.  However, what the bigots often fail to do is reference the entirety of the CDC study, or the CDC's commentary on the study.

Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination put MSM at risk for multiple physical and mental health problems and affect whether MSM seek and are able to obtain high-quality health services. Negative attitudes about homosexuality can lead to rejection by friends and family, discriminatory acts, and bullying and violence. These dynamics make it difficult for some MSM to be open about same-sex behaviors with others, which can increase stress, limit social support, and negatively affect health.

The CDC also frequently states that risk cannot be singled out when addressing STD transmission.  Ironically, the CDC's STD prevention Twitter account tweeted a study about that very fact just as the aforementioned individual was referencing them in our discussion.  The CDC has gone on to say:

HIV and syphilis infections impact certain demographics far more than others. Factors such as race, location, education, and self-worth can have almost as much a factor on one’s likelihood to contract HIV as sexual orientation.

Too often we can read alarming headlines and think, “why fight it, it’s inevitable.” This isn’t true. Most gay men don’t have HIV and never will. And while these frightening statistics can remind us to be careful, they should be taken in perspective.

It also bears mentioning that while anti-LGBT organizations might want to bill anal sex, the most common way of transmitting HIV, as a 'homosexual act,' that is not true.  Various studies have put the percentage of men and women practicing anal sex at between 30% and 50%.

Anti-LGBT activists often neglect to tell the whole story, and it isn't an accident.  They (or at least the more prominent ones) have read these studies in their entirety.  They know what they say, and they know which part can be used to prove their points.  I hope that they remember that lies of omission are still lies, and God hates those more than he supposedly hates LGBT.

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