According to recent reports, half of all potentially HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are not being tested. It seems there is still a stigma attached with one or the other, despite treatments available to help battle against the immune disorder and slow down the process of developing AIDS.
The information was found out through a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Bisexual and gay men were asked a series of questions, and it found that 47 percent of men would not discuss their choice of partners with their doctors. Doctors have also failed to recommend that 56 percent of their patients are tested for HIV.
There seems to still be a stigma that the disease is the “gay disease.” It was branded about during the 1980s when the initial problem became widespread in the Western world, but globally that statement is not true. However, most of the male patients in America do have male partners, so it is understandable where that idea has come from, and why it continues. The issue is that the misunderstanding leads to patients not receiving treatment, and the problem spreads further. The men with HIV pass it onto their partner, and may put other members of the public at risk, especially if there are accidents involving blood.
According to Kaiser, between 12 and 13 percent of bisexual and gay men have the immune disorder in the United States. That is over 20 times the rate among the general population. However, half of all potentially HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are not tested. They live with the virus without realizing, either due to failure to talk to their doctor about their sexual orientation or because their doctors have not advised a test.
Director of Global Health of Kaiser Jen Kates says that the men need to care more about the possibility of getting the virus. It is still around, and there is still no cure for it. The treatments are designed to slow down the development of the virus into AIDS. Without the treatment plans, patients will live a much shorter life.
Guidelines state that gay and bisexual males should have regularly tests, between three and six months. However, 20 percent of men in the survey admitted to having a test within the six months. Shockingly 27 percent said that they had never had a test for the virus. It is unclear how many of those who had never been tested fell into the 47 percent who did not talk to their doctors about their partners.
The best way to prevent this getting worse is by patients and doctors talking. There needs to be open communication about sexual partners and the testing for the virus. It is clear that there is blame on both sides. Doctors cannot advise the tests if they do not know about the sexual orientation of their patients, but at the same time they need to advise the tests and do them when the patients are open about their partners. It is a worrying statistic that half of all potentially HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are not tested.
By Alexandria Ingham
Photo credit: CC-2.0 Julien Harneis