What percentage of young MSM have HIV?

Recently, a fuss arose over a quote regarding HIV and young men who have sex with men (MSM) from Regina Griggs in a OneNewsNow article regarding youth and sexual identity. She said (in context):

Research shows that individuals often go through periods of gender and sexual confusion as they grow from children to teenagers to adults. Griggs wonders why, then, would schools opt to send children along a dangerous path. “Why are we allowing people to tell them, ‘Try it — you might like it?’ Over 70 percent of young kids 13- to 24-years-old, men having sex with men, are now HIV-positive,” Griggs notes. (see editor’s note)

Griggs here is describing prevalence, which is the total number of people in a population with a certain disease at a given time. However, this is clearly incorrect, as other bloggers have pointed out.
She may have been referring to a fact sheet at the CDC called HIV/AIDS Among Men Who Have Sex with Men when she was quoted by ONN.

In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 71% of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005 (based on data from 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting), even though only about 5% to 7% of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as MSM.

The ONN editors recently added a note pointing out the 71% figure from the CDC fact sheet.
This simply says that men having sex with men accounted for 71% of infections among all males reporting infections in 2005. MSM was a large driver of infections reported in 2005. While this is a sobering statistic, it does not mean what Mrs. Griggs said it means.
I do not know what the actual prevalence of MSM aged 13-24 with HIV is but it would need to be over 800,000 cases in order for her statistic to be true. This does not seem possible.
I arrived at that number by looking US Census data for 2005 which pegged the number of males in the US between 15-24 at about 19.7 million. The CDC estimates 5-7% of this age group as being MSM which yields 1.2 million males. If 70% of this group was HIV positive, then that would mean Mrs. Griggs is claiming that about 840,000 young men have HIV. Of course, these numbers are estimates since I rounded figures and used the Census data starting with age 15 and not 13 as the CDC does.
According to the CDC fact sheet, there are not that many people living with AIDS at present:

At the end of 2005, an estimated 217,323 MSM (191,362 MSM and 25,961 MSM who inject drugs) were living with AIDS, representing 67% of male adults and adolescents living with AIDS and 52% of all people living with AIDS.

These numbers are staggering enough without exaggeration or misinterpretation. I commented here because many have asked about the validity of these numbers and the quote made me curious about the scope of the issue.

Year in review: Top Ten Stories from 2007

Since it was so much fun last year, I decided to compile a top ten list of stories of the year on the blog. Since I am the only voter, the list is subjective and regular readers might arrange them differently or think I should have included another story over one of these. The stories are arranged in the order of the interest they seemed to create here on the blog and elsewhere.

1. APA Task Force on sexual orientation – I first reported here that the APA had convened a task force to review APA policy regarding therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. Initial information released from the APA noted that gay advocacy groups sought assistance from the APA in order to negatively evaluate efforts to change sexual orientation. The charge also involves therapeutic responses to individuals who wish to alter behavioral expression of their sexuality. The issue was the subject of a CNN segment involving yours truly, an Associated Press article and was the subject of several posts on the blog. A large coalition of religious groups and interested individuals wrote the APA regarding the religious aspects of the committee’s charge. Efforts to further regulate orientation change efforts spilled over to other professions, notably, the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The APA Task Force will likely be featured as a top story again since the report is expected to be released sometime in 2008.

2. The sexual identity therapy framework – The SIT framework was the subject of national news stories and identified by Stephanie Simon of the LA Times as an important component of changes in therapy for those in conflict over sexual identity. I did numerous posts on the framework in an attempt to distinguish it from other approaches. Mark Yarhouse and I presented aspects of the framework at the American Psychological Association convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference and other local conferences. A revision of the framework and several high level presentations are slated for 2008.

3. The release of the Exodus outcomes study by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse – After months of speculation, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse released the results of their longitudinal study of Exodus International participants at the AACC conference in September.  Although the study garnered little national media attention, many blogs, (including this one), and the gay and religiously based news services thoroughly covered the study. With additional data to be collected and reported, this story will most likely reappear in 2008.

4. Donnie Davies – For a short time in January and February, blogosphere was captivated by the “Rev. Davies” and the “The Bible Says” music video. In a kind of “Where’s Waldo” cyber hunt, numerous bloggers were eager to crack the case and learn find out who Donnie Davies was, where was he hiding, and to learn if his act for real. I did 11 posts on the subject and became acquainted via email with Joey Oglesby, the actor behind the spoof. We even wondered if Mr. Oglesby and Rev. Davies were twins separated at birth because of their uncanny resemblance. Will Donnie do an anniversary reunion tour in January? Stay tuned.

5. The Cameron Eastern Psychological Association presentation – In March, Paul and Kirk Cameron released a series of news spots claiming that data from Canada, Norway and Denmark supported their contention that gays die between 20-30 younger than straights. In reviewing their study, first presented as a poster session at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting, I disputed key assumptions underlying their claims. In addition, Danish epidemiologist, Morten Frisch reviewed the study here on the blog finding it inadequate. Paul and Kirk Cameron provided rebuttals to criticisms and a nine-part series resulted.

6. New Warriors Training Adventure and the Mankind Project – A post regarding the suicide of Michael Scinto in an October issue of the Houston Press led to a series of posts about the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. I received numerous emails from men who attest to benefit and those who believe NWTA was harmful and coercive. One irony about NWTA is that public proponents of reparative therapy and gay affirmative therapy both recommend NWTA to clients to enhance masculinity. Reparative therapists believe NWTA may lead to reduced same-sex attraction and gay therapists believe NWTA can enhance security in a gay identity. I remain curious about the mechanisms inherent in NWTA and other such programs to effect either benefit or harm. With the Scinto trial schedule for later in 2008, this story will remain of interest through the next year.

7. Montel Williams show on reparative therapy – The Montel Williams show purporting to examine reparative therapy was a lightning rod for controversy. On the show, psychiatrist Alicia Salzar falsely claimed that science has shown that 96% of people attempting to change orientation cannot do so and experience harm. Her claim was based on a study, the authors of which acknowledged cannot be used to make such a claim. The unwillingness of the show to retract the statement led to a ethics complaint against Dr. Salzar, filed by Exodus International.

8. Pro-life/abortion related stories – The most viewed post on the blog consisted of an interview with Grove City College colleague and historian Paul Kengor regarding the religious beliefs of Hillary Clinton.  Other such interviews have been immensely popular with readers as well. Another APA task force, this one on abortion and mental health issues, stimulated grassroots activism, reported here in November.

9. Emergence of the ex-ex-gay movement – At this year’s Exodus conference, a group of people once involved in ex-gay efforts had a parallel conference to discuss their efforts to recover from their experiences. Perhaps, the newest ex-ex-gay, James Stabile is a 19 year old young man from Dallas who encountered evangelists from the Heartland World Ministry Church in early September. Recorded on film and broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, it appeared that Mr. Stabile was dramatically converted and even reported change in homosexuality. Later it was learned that Mr. Stabile had not changed and was back home with his parents after a stay at ex-gay residential program, Pure Life Ministry.

10. Richard Cohen – An early 2007 debacle on John Stewart’s Daily Show led Mr. Cohen to pledge on my blog that he would do no additional media appearances. He ended his email with a fundraising appeal. In response to this appearance, Exodus issued a statement distancing the organization from Cohen’s work, and NARTH and PFOX quietly removed references to Mr. Cohen from their websites. Cohen made something of a comeback however, with You Tube videos including his family, and a new edition of one of his books with Evangelical publisher, Intervarsity Press. Then, later, I looked into the Unification Church connections of Mr. Cohen’s assistant director and former board member, Hilde Wiemann. Both Cohen and Wiemann initially denied these connections but they were clear enough that cult expert, Steve Hassan, briefly placed the International Healing Foundation back on his list of Unification Church connected groups. Eventually, Mrs. Wiemann acknowledged, in contrast to the initial claims, that she had been involved in the church and had only recently left it. After her repudiation of Moon, Mr. Hassan then again removed the IHF from his list of Unification connected groups.

Well, that was quite a year. I suppose one could make a case for other stories, e.g., the Omaha websites advocating violence, the quick emergence and then retreat of Michael Glatze as an ex-gay spokesman, Ted Haggard’s three week therapy, the wide stance of Larry Craig, the Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, Stephen Bennett’s public division with Exodus, Al Mohler’s comments on biology and homosexuality, the retirement of I Do Exist, and my musical comeback and resultant #1 Internet hit.

Now cast your opinion – What would your top ten list for this blog look like for 2007?

Godspeed to all and a Happy New Year!

Advocacy group set to sue Montgomery County, MD over transgender bill

With the passage of the transgendered recognition bill in Montgomery County, MD yesterday, a public interest law firm, Advocates for Faith and Freedom is prepared to sue the county on behalf of PFOX, a church and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of MD. One specific concern is the lack of exemption for religious groups and organizations. Would religious groups be required to accommodate conduct or dress they ordinarily would prohibit?

The AFF legal analysis and letter to the Montgomery County, MD board is here.

No word when the suit might be filed.

Exodus makes public statement regarding Richard Cohen

This statement was posted this afternoon on the Exodus International website:

Statement on Richard Cohen

Exodus International does not endorse the work of Richard Cohen or the methods utilized in his practice. Some of the techniques Mr. Cohen employs could be detrimental to an individual’s understanding of healthy relational boundaries and disruptive to the psychological and emotional development of men and women seeking clinical counsel and aid.

UPDATE: Alan Chambers has resigned from the PFOX (Parents & Friends of Ex-gays and Gays) board.

Richard Cohen responds to critics; apologizes for Daily Show

I just received this email from Richard Cohen, published here with permission:

March 22, 2007

International Healing Foundation

Tel. (301) 805-6111

Greetings,

I would like to address the questions that some friends have expressed in regard to some of the media appearances I’ve done recently, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, Paula Zahn Now, The Montel Show, and this week’s Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

I’ve chosen to do interviews on shows such as these in an effort to reach people who would normally never hear our message. Some of these shows have mocked me and this work. Most times though, the interviews on these and other shows have turned out in our favor. I have had wonderful opportunities to get the truth out clearly and have seen many people respond because of these interviews, seeking out healing and change through various PATH (Positive Alternatives To Homosexuality) organizations.

This week’s interview on The Daily Show was difficult. It took place in my home and office, and was the most degrading experience I’ve had in the media. I unknowingly allowed myself to be manipulated and coerced by the producer and the host. I take full responsibility for this mistake. I have learned since my interview with The Daily Show that this program treats most of the experts they interview the same way they treated me: taking bits and pieces of the interview, re-edit it out of order, and make the interviewee appear foolish.

Happily, regular Daily Show viewers—which I am not—are in on the gag and know that this is the way the show generates laughs. I have learned well from this experience to better research future interview opportunities and to be more discerning about the offers that I accept, and what therapeutic approaches I demonstrate on the air. I sincerely apologize if my decision to be on this and other interview programs has caused you any hurt or harm. Please forgive me.

Over the past seventeen years with the International Healing Foundation, I have been able to assist hundreds of men and women with unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) realize their dreams of a heterosexual life. With all my heart, I want to help the general public understand that no one is born with same-sex attractions (SSA), and that change is possible.

There are still so many people caught in the lies of the “gay myth.” It grieves God’s heart to see His children in such situations. It hurts me too, having lived a “gay life,” and knowing the wonderful possibility of healing that truly exists, and the freedom that may be experienced when someone comes out straight. We must get our message out as often as possible. Lives are [at]stake. Lives can be changed forever.

Changing our cultural understanding about SSA and the possibility of change takes a lot of time, and a lot of skill in reaching out to major media outlets, with a well-crafted message. I am not a public relations expert and very much need the help of one. I have had to handle the media on my own. I realize now that this needs to be changed.

If you can contribute financial resources toward funding public relations and media strategizing, so we can launch a positive campaign to promote the truth about SSA and the possibility of change, please contact me. I/we need and appreciate your help in this urgent matter. I know that we can impact our culture in a positive way. However, we simply need the training and funding to accomplish this life-saving goal.

I am in this for life. Twenty years ago God called me to do this work, and I have been faithful. I will not cease. I will not sit down. I will continue to work for the freedom of all men and women who experience same-sex attractions and their loving families.

Thank you for your understanding, your prayers, and your support.

Many blessings,

Richard

Richard Cohen, M.A.

Director

International Healing Foundation

P.O. Box 901

Bowie, MD 20718

Tel (301) 805-6111

Fax (301) 805-5155

www.ComingOutStraight.com

www.GayChildrenStraightParents.com

PFOX revamps website

Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-gays has revamped their website with a more streamlined look. Much of the same content is in place formatted as a series of bulletin boards where it appears comments can be posted. PFOX also has a blog.

A flash video clip of Dr. Robert Spitzer is featured on the front page and loads automatically. I cannot tell from what video the clip is taken but it appears to be edited from a longer produced video. Anyone know from what this is taken? It seems to be a bit sparse to be included on the site without context. If you do not know who Dr. Spitzer is, then it won’t make much sense to you. If you know what Dr. Spitzer believes (change occurs but it is quite rare), then it will seem plucked out of context. I have a lengthy interview with Dr. Spitzer (pdf file opens in this window) where he covers the same ground in great detail.

Wayne Besen has a more recent clip of Bob Spitzer saying essentially the same thing he always does about his work although here he says he is not happy with how he believes Focus on the Family has used his study. I do not know what he is referring to exactly as he only mentions that he was unhappy that his broadcast with Dr. Dobson was distributed widely. If anyone has evidence of where Focus has misstated the study, please post it. I cannot recall where they have said more than what he says.

UPDATE: 2/19/07 – I spoke with Bob Spitzer by phone this morning. He does not know from what video the clip on the PFOX website comes. He said he is not a spokesman for PFOX and hopes that they will note a disclaimer on their site that he believes change in sexual orientation is infrequent.