3/11/2010

When Scientists Fail

Check out this headline: "Gay Men 44 Times More Likely To Get HIV!" Scary, ain't it? Certainly seems like it's a good idea for the CDC and FDA to keep that blood ban. Obviously, if you're gay you're 44 times more likely to have HIV!  Oh no!

But, wait, what gay men are more likely? That's where the scientists at the CDC fail us. See, they don't see "gay" men they see "Men who have sex with men" or MSM. OK, so are all MSM "gay"? Would they identify as "gay"? Probably not. In fact, Gay Men's Health Crisis which trumpeted this rather shoddy report admits that men who are closeted or who are unaccepted by their families are more likely to engage in risky behavior.


But, more importantly the CDC seems to be working the numbers. After all, I am MSM according to CDC because I have had sex with my husband in the past five years. Yet, we are completely monogamous as are most of the couples I know and we are both negative. So, who exactly are they studying?

Is there a difference between monogamous couples and singles? They don't bother to say and therein lies the normal prejudice we see in United States government reports. It is also a problem that, shockingly, none of our LGBT watchdog organizations bothers to point out. Afterall, GMHC is happy to report startling numbers because it means funding. But, what about other LGBT groups? Why is no one asking why there is no distinction among people in monogamous stable relationships and single people? Why is no one asking to see the tabs between men who are completely out and happy and those on "the down low?"

I think we can surmise why the government isn't bothering with that information. Showing that tolerance, marriage, and community support could help prevent HIV spread would mean having to say that there is an abiding public interest in promoting marriage equality and condemning homophobia. Both positions our government is terrified to take for fear of stepping on the toes of Christian extremists who call the shots in the halls of government.

So, the CDC releases startling numbers again that seem to support its view we're all disease ridden vermin and that plays happily into the clutches of the right wing. Meanwhile, our organizations have a screaming headline for fundraisers and everyone is happy with the status quo.

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