Saturday, March 7, 2009

Declining or Transitioning?

Thanks to @harveymilk for the heads up.

An interesting article from the journal AIDS Care that uses the changes in the gay community over the past 20 years as a way of talking about HIV prevention. 

In dry terms: 
This study sought to identify how urban gay communities are undergoing structural change, reasons for that change, and implications for HIV prevention planning. Key informants (N=29) at the AIDS Impact Conference from 17 cities in 14 countries completed surveys and participated in a facilitated structured dialog about how gay communities are changing. In all cities, the virtual gay community was identified as now larger than the offline physical community. Most cities identified that while the gay population in their cities appeared stable or growing, the gay community appeared in decline. Measures included greater integration of heterosexuals into historically gay-identified neighborhoods and movement of gay persons into suburbs, decreased number of gay bars and clubs, less attendance at gay events, less volunteerism in gay or AIDS organizations and overall identification and visibility as a gay community. Participants attributed structural change to multiple factors including gay neighborhood gentrification, achievement of civil rights, less discrimination, a vibrant virtual community and changes in drug use. Consistent with social assimilation, across cities, gay infrastructure, visibility and community identification appears to be decreasing. HIV prevention planning, interventions, treatment services, and policies need to be re-conceptualized for MSM in post-gay communities. Four recommendations for future HIV prevention and research are detailed.
There are two interesting take-aways from the article:
1) The existing gay communities and organizations are changing, and no one is quite sure where it's going, or if it's for good or for evil.

2) HIV/STI prevention in gay men is becoming more difficult due to these changes.
Anyone who works in the LGBT community or in AIDS prevention will say, in response: no duh. But it's nice that we have the research to prove what we've been saying for years. :-) 

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