Stronger Together - Keep it Up!
It was in 1981 that reports of a strange, new disease affecting gay men first appeared in the news. In Toronto, it was the gay community that banded together to respond to HIV and AIDS, for it was gay men who were one of the first communities to be affected here. Over the past 30 years, HIV and AIDS has grown into a world wide epidemic affecting millions of men, women and children.
Today, HIV affects many different communities in Toronto. Still, gay men continue to be the community most affected by HIV: over 70% of all people living with HIV in our city are gay men, and the majority of all new HIV infections continue to be among gay men. Despite the huge impact of HIV in our community, gay men have not only survived - we've thrived. We continue to have the highest rate of consistent condom use. We use sophisticated ways to navigate our sex lives and avoid HIV transmission. Gay men care about their health and the health of others.
Despite everything negative that society throws at us, we're still here. Because we are resilient!
Gay men have been made the subject of many studies, surveys, reports, projects, and theses. Most often, it's the negative things about us that have been highlighted, rather than the positive things. For example, most studies of gay men's sexual behaviour focus on those who have reported unsafe sex, and the factors that contribute to unsafe sex - but not on the factors that help gay men practice safer sex. Wouldn't it be nice if, as an example, researchers chose to study those factors - things like having a strong social support network - that assist gay men in practicing safer sex, or we spoke more about the assets that we have as gay men, rather than only focussing on those things that are seen as deficits?
We think so.
We’re proud. We care. We’re part of a community. And, we're stronger together. So let's keep it up!
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