About That 2013 HIV Report From MDCH...

By Todd Heywood
Originally printed 9/11/2014 (Issue 2237 - Between The Lines News)

`Recently, Between The Lines broke down the new 2013 report on HIV in the state of Michigan. One the things that stuck out was the fact that 31 percent of the new infections had no known risk. Reading the report, one of the definitions stuck out.

"Undetermined males and females with no identified risk. Males whose only documented risk is sex with a female, and their female partner's risk and HIV status is unknown (note: these males meet the definition of heterosexual contact w/ female (HCF) in the exposure categories, but they remain "undetermined" risk in the transmission categories)."

Statewide, 16 percent of male cases are "undetermined" risk. We asked MDCH to explain this, and here's what Angela Minicuci, spokesperson for the department, had to say:

"Per the CDC, males must have female partners with known risks in order to be classified as heterosexual (i.e., females known to be infected or at high risk for HIV) for risk transmission categories. If the female partner does not meet these criteria, there is not much known about the likely transmission of HIV to males except that they had sex with a female of no known risk," Minicuci explained in an email. "Since we cannot report them as heterosexual risk, we also provide Exposure categories for which heterosexual contact for males is defined as males who have had sex with a female, regardless of what is known about the female's HIV status or behaviors."

Of course, this raises the question: if 16 percent of the cases of male infections are undetermined - meaning they likely fit the heterosexual contact with a female - why are they not directly identified as so? Also, note that it is referred to as "men who have sex with men" as compared to "heterosexual contact." Doesn't this pathologize and "other" queer sex, while normalizing straight sex and creating an illusion that straight men don't get HIV?

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