OUR COMMUNITY’S HEALTH
Safer sex practices advised to reverse high rates of HIV among African American gay/bisexual men The alarmingly high rates of HIV among African American gay and bisexual men in Milwaukee create a situation where the usual levels of safer sex practices will still lead to higher rates of transmission. Greater adherence to safer sex is needed at this time, but these behaviors are affected by social conditions and structural issues in Milwaukee, such as stigma, rejection, limited healthy social outlets, and a lack of sexuality education for these young gay and bisexual men. These conditions put vulnerable young men into risky situations with insufficient information and a low sense of self-worth. In October 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came to Milwaukee to study what appeared to be a new HIV outbreak. The CDC found that the increases were real and not merely the result of improved case finding. The CDC analysis showed that African American gay and bisexual men are the most severely affected by HIV. Among gay and bisexual men reported with HIV infection in 2009, 49% were African American. Diverse and Resilient has two new programs for HIV prevention. The first, Be ABLE, is for HIV- African American gay and bisexual men 21 to 35 to learn about HIV prevention and address the issues that arise for them regularly. The second program is intended for African American gay and bisexual youth 14 to 20 and takes place at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. This program involves safe and healthy space to socialize, educational sessions, and outreach events. Both programs have HIV testing available and are facilitated by members of the community and supervised by a professional staff from the community as well. HIV is a preventable disease involving huge personal crises for all involved as well as a huge public cost. Resolving this problem will require individual people to put our humanness and community first, making sure we all stay safe and out of harm’s way. Article submitted by Brenda Coley, Director of Adult Services Diverse and Resilient, Inc., and Christopher Allen, HIV Prevention Coordinator Diverse and Resilient, Inc.,
January 16, 2013 //
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