In 2011, a small cluster of men in rural Deschutes County popped onto the radar of county health workers. The men were young, often using methamphetamines and having sex with other men.
They came to the attention of the health department because some began to experience symptoms they couldn’t explain—until they took an HIV test.
Their cases are now part of what health officials say is a small, but concerning, spike in HIV cases Deschutes County and around the nation among young, gay men. It’s a knotty public health problem fueled by a lack of sex education, the “gutting” of HIV prevention programs, and a culture of fear around being outed that keeps people from seeking resources about safe sex.
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