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HIV infections in France ‘200 times higher in gay men’

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  1. HIV rates in French gay men have always been astronomically high 0 much more so than in Britain; the US and the Nethrlands.

    But 200 times higher – that’s totally shocking.

    I read an Edmund White book some time ago called The Flaneur and he had some interesting theories on why HIV rates are so outrageous in French gay men. I must read it again.

    Primarily it’s because in France there is no gay ‘community; as exists in Anglo-Saxon countries. Being gay in France does not seem to be an identity like it does in the UK – it’s regarded as more a facet of one’s character, rather than the defining characteristic. That’s nice in theory, but when Aids exploded in the 1980’s the gay population in France were pretty much left entirely ignorant about the risk they faced, as there was no targetted prevention campaigns aimed at them. And there was no support network which existed in the UK, Netherlands, Germany etc.

    And shocking to see that France STILL has such an outrageously high HIV rate among gay men.

  2. Is anyone good at maths? (I’m not).

    I’m wondering how these rates compare to Britain.

    I recall reading on here recently that gay/bi men also account for almost half of new HIV diagnosese in Britain.

    If we assume that say 6% of the adult population is gay, that would mean that about 3% of the adult population are gay/bi males (assuming that there is an equal percentage of men and women who are gay).

    This would mean that the gay/bi male 3% of the British population accounts for almost 50% of the HIV diagnoses in Britain.

    Does that mean that in Britain gay men are 16 times more likely to be positive than straight people, or is there some mathematical formula that needs to be applied for the actual rate?

  3. de Villiers 9 Sep 2010, 5:54pm

    > it’s because in France there is no gay ‘community; as exists in Anglo-Saxon countries. Being gay in France does not seem to be an identity like it does in the UK

    That’s right. There are no rainbow flags in Le Marais.

    I’m not surprised by these figures – and neither would anyone else be if they had visited the gay dens in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Nice. Paris is the gay underworld of Europe.

  4. Simon Murphy 10 Sep 2010, 12:46am

    France is very liberated sexually.

    In 1896 Oscar Wilde could have fled his persecution in Britain if he’d had the sense to flee to France before his court case.

    Sexuality seems more a private matter there (can you imagine David Cameron divorcing his wife and marrying Kate Moss? No! Well Sarkozy divorced his 2nd wife before marrying Carla Bruni. The press in Britain would crucify Cameron if he tried to do that!).

    The trouble with the French situation is that there is no awareness of the repercussions of such a laid back attitude to sexuality. With Aids being such a deadly disease, the puritanical British and Dutch and American attitude seems to indicate that in terms of HIV among gay men, it is a safer environment.

  5. de Villiers 10 Sep 2010, 6:44am

    > Sexuality seems more a private matter

    That’s because France is very socially conservative. THere is very little public acceptance.

  6. Yet again a media story targets certain groups so that other groups can kid themselves it won’t happen to them.

    I don’t dispute these findings but by separating groups as targets not only increases the risk of homophobia but sends out the wrong message that others are immune.

    This needs to be worked on the basis that HIV and STD’s do not discriminate, unlike people. Teach this equally for all. That is the message that we need to be sending.

  7. I am no math wiz either, and perhaps I am misreading the article, but since when is the difference between 45% heterosexual and 48% MSM 200 times anything. Furthermore since when does the term MSM really represent gay people. Most people I know who identify as MSM do not think they are gay, and hence tend to be even slutier since they are not seeking anything resembling an LTR. What they also never seem to mention is that the infection rate among married men in probably almost nil, now that is a statistic we could actually use.

  8. By married men I meant men married to men, not just married men in general. I would also include men who consider themselves married even if the state does not.

  9. “What they also never seem to mention is that the infection rate among married men in probably almost nil”

    How can you possibly draw that conclusion? What are you basing it on?

  10. Interesting discussion about cultural differences…I hadn’t really thought of that. I also have to agree with Villiers. This story, along with the recent events in the U.S. and Canada to keep the lifetime ban on gay blood donors, promotes the myth that this is a “gay disease.” Yes, based on the statistical data, you will probably find a disproportionate amount of HIV-infected gay men. I haven’t read the details of the study. However, I have to wonder how many sub-Saharan immigrants, drug users, and heterosexuals thought, “hmmm. I think I will take an HIV test today”? I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s very scientific to make arguments from data that isn’t there. I don’t feel there is going to ever be a way to get true scientific data on this.

  11. @MT Bags
    “I don’t dispute these findings but by separating groups as targets not only increases the risk of homophobia but sends out the wrong message that others are immune”.

    Blame reckless sexual behavior of gay and bi men for increase of homophobia, not the news behind it

  12. This is really worrying.

    People need to be more responsible.

  13. De Villiers, on what basis do you say that Paris is the sexual underbelly of Europe? Hqve you experience of it? Do you frequent Parisian fleshpots?

    You are, however, correct. There are gay qnd straight sex clubs here in Paris as nowhere else.

    The French are a sensual people. Not uptight and dead like the British. Fortunately for the British this means they are not suffering so much from the HIV risk. Sex without condoms is common in gay sex places in Paris:

  14. De Villiers, on what basis do you say that Paris is the sexual underbelly of Europe? Hqve you experience of it? Do you frequent Parisian fleshpots?

    You are, however, correct. There are gay qnd straight sex clubs here in Paris as nowhere else.

    The French are a sensual people. Not uptight and dead like the British. Fortunately for the British this means they are not suffering so much from the HIV risk. Sex without condoms is common in gay sex places in Paris.

  15. As a gay man, I am offended by this notion that I am at high risk. I am not at high risk at all. Both me and my partner are monogamous and completely healthy. Our risk of catching anything is zero so long as we are monogamous.

    The headline whores in the medical and AIDS industries are harming the image of gay men by categorizing “gay” as being “high risk”. You are only high risk if you are promiscuous, not gay. Your sexual orientation has no effect at all on whether you are likely to catch a venereal disease.

    No disease has the ability to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. However, a disease will be more likely to affect you if you’re promiscuous. It’s the promiscuity, stupid.

  16. @ comment 11 (and)

    Nearly 200,000 abortions each year in the UK and people seriously want to carry on making out that gay/bisexual men are to blame for their ‘reckless sexual behaviour’? We have the highest teenage pregnancies in Europe, that doesn’t suggest that gay/bisexual men are any worse that their straight counterparts.

    The difference is the majority of our straight counterparts not only think that HIV is a ‘gay’ disease, with the help of the media, they can actually be far worse and in more denial that any STD’s will happen to them. They think that any sexual health matters is down to the women to sort. Only because even the most tightest are the most cowdy-custards to get checked.

    People shouldn’t just assume that gay/bisexual men are worse just because they read it. It’s this kind of media reporting that causes the homophobia and the separation to those who believe they are immune.

    Surely that is the real problem and the most dangerous. Unless HIV is taught to everyone with the message that HIV does Not discriminate then ‘reckless sexual behaviour’ regardless of gender or sexuality, then I fear this problem will not be controlled. As I said before the media has to take some amount of responsibilty in the way they report such things too.

    All need to change habits, media & people, and only then will this problem start to become less of a issue.

  17. @mtbags:”I don’t dispute these findings but by separating groups as targets not only increases the risk of homophobia but sends out the wrong message that others are immune”.

    Separating groups by targets allows to adapt messages to specific groups. Every gay man knows how HIV is transmitted and knows that condoms are the best protection. Yet, the stats show that they do not practice what they know. It is behaviours you want to affect, not knowledge. f you do not come up with specific campaigns, targeting them, the media they read, the places where they go, with specific messages, you will fail them. In a sex-ed class for pre-teens, you cannot be graphic about the various levels of risk between being top or bottom, sucking, fisting, exchanging sextoys, open partnerships etc. Yet, if you want to change behaviours, you have to discuss them.

    It would be a huge waste of money and efforts to offer on-the-spot HIV testing at the half-time of a football match but it would make much public health sense to do it at gay bars and saunas, for gay men’s own health.

    France is not a country at risk of passing anti-homosexual laws because gay men are shown to be more at risk of HIV. If we want to save the lives of gay men and reduce future contamination of gay men, we need to tell it like it is. Burying our heads in the sands for fear of being pointed at costs lives.

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