ATLANTA — Black gay men are contracting HIV in Atlanta in epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated in 2016 that one in two black men would contract the disease.
Christian Dacus is a youth HIV policy advisor with Georgia Equality. He said personally, the spike in the number of HIV cases for gay black men in Atlanta is not surprising to him because of the stigma.
“It's been spun in such a negative way that HIV is a punishment for your sins," Dacus said.
Dacus cited non-acceptance from religion and family, and living a life of hiding a secret as the reason why -- despite education and advocacy efforts among gay black men in Atlanta -- numbers are not declining.
“When you're hiding something you're less prone to go out be more careful, if you will," Dacus said.
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And though condoms are freely handed out in some nightlife venues, Dacus said for those who hide that area of their life, condoms simply don’t come into play.
Even though condoms can protect from HIV, STDs and STIs, "condoms are used to being used as a contraceptive, as a birth control. When you don't factor in a pregnancy, you don't feel the need to use a condom," Dacus said.
Along with condoms, Dacus said with medical advances like the PREP pill taken daily, a person can prevent HIV infection.
“It may prevent you from contracting HIV, but there are a slew of other STIs you don't want, so I think condom usage is still something to be enforced,” Dacus stated.
People are urged to get screened for HIV every six months if they’re sexually active or at least once a year.