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Why Are The HIV Infection Rates for Gay & Bi Men in B.C. NOT Declining?

"While the overall rate of new HIV infections has steadily declined in British Columbia, the epidemic among gay and bisexual men continues, the provincial health officer said in his annual report released Monday, reports The Province. Dr. Perry Kendall said the infection rate among gay and bisexual men has remained steady for the past decade. Gay and bisexual men aged 30 to 44 years represent the highest proportion of new diagnoses, the report said. "We have a confluence of factors working together to make this a challenging epidemic," Kendall said. There are many theories about the worrying trend, Kendall said: that gay and bisexual men are suffering "condom fatigue," less vigilance because HIV is now a treatable disease, less testing, or lower perception of risk. But the answers are more complex, he said. Broader societal issues like marginalization of the community, stigma and racism play a role, as well as access to appropriate health care, sexual behaviour and other factors, said the report by Kendall and Dr. Mark Gilbert of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The report also pointed out that while gay and bisexual men now represent nearly half of the HIV population, less than 10 per cent of Canadian health research grants in 2011 were for prevention targeting that group. Jesse Brown was 20 when he was diagnosed with HIV.

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