In a recent video clip, the most-followed Vine star, Nash Grier, screamed a homophobic slur after insinuating that HIV is something that exclusively affects the LGBT Community. Dr. Gary Blick, co-founder of HIV Equal, and Tyler Curry, Senior Editor of HIV Equal Online — an initiative developed by World Health Clinicians and distributed through social media to end the stigma against testing for HIV and the disease itself — are troubled by the comments made by Grier.
“HIV is not just a gay thing. It’s a woman thing, it’s an African-American thing, it’s a Latino thing - it’s something that affects everyone in every community,” said Dr. Blick. “It’s time that our youth here in the U.S. wake up and realize that HIV doesn’t discriminate — and neither should they. Even though men who have sex with men are the greatest at risk for contracting HIV, so are youth aged 13-23. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that new HIV infections among women are primarily attributed to heterosexual contact (84 percent in 2010) or injection drug use (16 percent in 2010). Women accounted for 20 percent of estimated new HIV infections in 2010 and 24 percent of those living with HIV infection in 2009. Those in the Black/African-American community continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV compared to other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010.
“Our youth need to be made aware that stigma against a disease or a community of people is not something that we, as a society, will tolerate," said Tyler Curry, Senior Editor of HIV Equal Online. "Comments like the ones in Mr. Grier’s Vine video reinforce this point, and show the need that our youth here in the U.S. still have much to learn when it comes to HIV; and they are the most affected by the disease.”