“Our Lives Matter”: Black Gay Leaders Call for Accelerated Response to HIV/AIDS
Men who have sex with men (MSM)—and African-American MSM in particular—are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Analysis of data from in 21 major U.S. cities found that African-American gay and bisexual men had the highest HIV prevalence of any ethnic group sampled, and were the least likely to know their HIV status.
The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) is working to change that. Since 2006, NBGMAC has advocated for sound policy, research, and education to improve the health and well-being of African-American gay and bi men.
In an open letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, NBGMAC members today reminded the secretary that “In 2011 on World AIDS Day, President Obama said that ‘the lives of Black gay men matter.’ That profoundly important statement signaled to Black gay men that the Obama Administration would demonstrate the truth of the statement through its actions.” The letter continued, “Unfortunately, the department has not evidenced a swift resolve to redirect and apply scarce resources to the populations most impacted by the epidemic, especially Black gay men.”
“The anticipated implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy based on scientific evidence and sound epidemiological data is falling dangerously short,” observed Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation and chair of NBGMAC, in a press release. “We need the secretary to take action now or we will not achieve an AIDS-free generation.”
NBGMAC members are calling for Secretary Sebelius’ leadership in several initiatives, all of which would increase the attention and/or resources devoted to addressing factors that contribute to high HIV infection rates among African-American men who have sex with men, and to improving health outcomes in this underserved population. They also note a lack of representation of African-American MSM in leadership roles within Health and Human Services agencies.
“The Administration has rightly focused the nation’s attention to the hope of an AIDS-free generation. We share that vision,” the open letter stated. “However, it can only be achieved if a focus on the HIV epidemic among black gay men is a clear priority.”
To learn more about NBGMAC’s current advocacy efforts, read an excerpt from the press release below and see it in full on the coalition’s blog.
Washington, September 19, 2013 — The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) and numerous black gay community leaders today called for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to accelerate the response to the HIV epidemic among black gay men.
In a letter to the Secretary and in public comments to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) meeting in Washington, members of the coalition’s executive committee expressed concern about resistance from HHS officials to allocate resources or develop a more robust programmatic response to the increasing rate of HIV infections among black gay men.
…At its meeting in September 2011, PACHA passed a resolution on addressing the health disparity of HIV among Black gay men. NBGMAC express strong support for its implementation. On September 19, NBGMAC will hold a follow-up session to review follow-up actions to the resolution with federal agencies and a community representative. The meeting will convene at 9 a.m. in the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW in Washington, DC….
Want to get involved and make your voice heard for African-American gay and bi men’s health? Click here to learn more about the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition’s mission, initiatives, and membership.