WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week launched a new campaign called “Start Talking, Stop HIV,” that encourages gay and bi men to talk with their sexual partners about HIV risk and prevention strategies.
Although research suggests that open communication leads to behaviors that can help reduce risk, such as HIV testing and status disclosure, studies have found that important discussions about HIV do not occur within many relationships.
“Given the range of HIV prevention options available today, talking about HIV prevention has never been more important for gay and bisexual men,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “Only after having open and honest conversations can partners make informed choices about which strategies will work for them. Start Talking. Stop HIV. urges gay and bisexual men to break the silence and take control of their health.”
Men who have sex with men (MSM) — including those who inject drugs — continue to be the group most severely affected by HIV in the United States, accounting for more than half (57 percent) of the 1.1 million people living with HIV and approximately two-thirds (66 percent) of all new HIV infections each year. Young (ages 13-24) MSM, especially young black MSM, are at particularly high risk for HIV. Despite this heavy burden, a recent CDC study of gay and bisexual men in 20 cities found that 37 percent did not know the HIV status of their last male partner.
The Start Talking. Stop HIV. campaign website features information and resources as well as practical tips for starting conversations about safe sex and HIV. The campaign will also be featured at Pride events and other community activities across the country.