Advocates battle surging HIV rates in Chicago

Poverty, incarceration, unemployment and severe social stigma all contribute to the high percentage of gay black men infected with HIV, experts noted. But nationwide, gay black men typically tend to have fewer partners than their white counterparts, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you think of HIV as a pool on the South Side of Chicago, or any other urban area, and you’re a young black gay male just dipping your toe into that pool, you’re more likely to contract it because the risk factor is so high,” Jim Pickett, director of advocacy for the AIDS Foundation, said.

For white homosexual men, the rise in HIV infection can be attributed to a younger generation that is more open and experimental, and as a result, this can mean more likely to engage in riskier behaviors, said Cynthia Tucker, director of prevention for the AIDS Foundation.

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