Anal sex, not same sex, ups risk for HIV

Boynton’s Dave Golden’s comment deserves clarification.

by Michael Leviton

I would like to raise an issue concerning the recent article about National HIV Testing Day in the June 27 issue of the Minnesota Daily. In the article, Dave Golden, Boynton Health Service’s director of public health and communications, stated that it is especially true that those who are in high risk groups for HIV acquisition, such as gay men, those who engage in unprotected sex and individuals with multiple partners, should be tested for HIV. Although I am sure Golden does not mean to promote an outdated stereotype, this is in effect what has actually occurred.
For this reason, I think it is necessary that we raise everyone’s consciousness and make the proper distinction in regard to this comment. The proper comment would be that those individuals who engage in anal sexual intercourse are at an increased risk for HIV infection. A male, just simply by the fact of him being attracted to other men, does not increase his risk for HIV infection. Furthermore, heterosexual individuals who engage in anal sexual intercourse have the same increased risk for HIV acquisition as do homosexuals who engage in this same activity.
A heterosexual individual who had unprotected anal sexual intercourse with someone who was HIV positive would have the same chance of contracting HIV as a homosexual male who had unprotected anal sexual intercourse with an HIV-positive male.
If a heterosexual male was raped by the means of anal sexual intercourse by an HIV-positive man, would his chances of contracting HIV be less simply because he was heterosexual? It seems to me to be an absurd conclusion. Therefore, the defining action which puts an individual at a greater risk of HIV infection is unprotected anal sexual intercourse — not one’s sexual identity.
Michael Leviton is an assistant scientist at the office of Pediatric Infectious Disease.