There are many reasons that AIDS isn't on the front pages or in the forefront of our minds every day. As a community, we're well aware of the medical advances and treatment options. We can calculate our risk factors. We know how to prevent transmission, and the importance of safe sex, or at least we think we do.
Bottom line: we don't see our friends and lovers dying on a daily basis, and that means the immediacy of action and protection for many is less important while the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS remains high, a dangerous combination. Moreover, there is an entirely new generation of gay and bi men who never experienced that immediacy and for whom HIV was never a big deal.
Perhaps that's why in a 2011 national public opinion survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8 in 10 Americans say they heard little or nothing about HIV/AIDS in the last year, and public concern about HIV/AIDS has fallen steadily over the years, including among those most heavily affected. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 gay and bisexual men (19 percent) in 21 major U.S. cities today are HIV-positive -- and nearly half of those who are infected (44 percent) don't know it. It's clear that attention needs to be paid, and I'm proud to say that Sirius XM OutQ is strengthening its commitment to covering issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
On Saturday, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT, Sirius XM OutQ will air the first installment of SpeakOUT: Real Talk About AIDS in Gay America. The show will be co-hosted by Larry Flick, host of OutQ's The Morning Jolt, and Dr. Frank Spinelli, M.D., author of The Advocate Guide to Gay Men's Health and Wellness. The first show will focus on the politics of mating -- relationships and HIV -- tackling such issues as how to ask a partner to get tested and use condoms, and how to disclose your status to a new partner. It will also explore the effects of Grindr and other popular social networking sites on HIV/AIDS among gay and bi men.
The panel of guests includes Greater Than AIDS representatives Marteniz Brown and Larry Hammack, both gay men with personal stories connected to the HIV epidemic, and Dr. Mary Ann Chiasson, a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
SpeakOUT: Real Talk About AIDS in Gay America, launched by SiriusXM OutQ and Greater Than AIDS, will foster honest and challenging dialogue around HIV/AIDS in the gay community. The limited-run series will explore HIV in the health-care setting, new research advances, community activism, and the politics of AIDS. OutQ's position on satellite radio gives us a unique opportunity to reach a national audience and have real, frank discussions about high-risk behavior and sex in a way many other media outlets can't. That will hopefully lead to the important ongoing dialogue that the community so desperately needs.