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Action Reports Address HIV Crisis Among Black MSM
by GayHealth Staff

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released reports about HIV Prevention in minority communities -- namely men who have sex with men (MSM) as well as the African American and Latino communities.

NASTADís monograph, released December 5, focuses on HIV in the African American Community, with recommendations for state and local health AIDS directors and health departments.

African American MSM are particularly hard-hit, with rates of new HIV infections in some cities as high as those now seen in South Africa.
"HIV/AIDS: African American Perspectives and Recommendations for State and Local AIDS Directors and Health Departments," was developed by NASTADís African American Advisory Committee. The organization hopes it will be used as a tool to help boost the response of state and local health departments to what has become an AIDS crisis in the African American community.

"This document comes at a critical time to point our membership in the right direction for strengthening state and local efforts to meet the diverse HIV prevention and care needs of African American communities," says Mark O. Loveless, MD, Oregon AIDS Director and NASTAD Chair.

Similar issues were discussed in a report issued by the CDC in November, "No Turning Back: Addressing the HIV Crisis Among Men Who Have Sex With Men".

In the report the CDC notes that MSM continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, with an estimated 42 percent of new HIV cases infecting MSM. Of particular concern are young African American and Latino MSM. "African American MSM are particularly hard-hit, with rates of new HIV infections in some cities as high as those now seen in South Africa," according to the report. "Young Latino MSM are also heavily affected, with AIDS incidence rates 2.5 times higher than white MSM."

The NASTAD monograph offers steps that state and local health departments can take to address the challenges associated with addressing HIV/AIDS in the African American community. The monograph is available on the NASTAD Web site. (There is a link to the site in the sidebar.)

"Health departments and AIDS directors have a responsibility to take leaderships and address the AIDS crisis in African American communities. An important step that AIDS directors can take to fulfill their responsibility to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in African American communities, is to educate themselves about the complex historical underpinnings that inform the AIDS crisis in the African American communities today," the NASTAD report states. "AIDS directors, who understand the historical underpinnings surrounding African Americans and HIV/AIDS can better develop, implement and strengthen plans to respond to the epidemic in African American communities."

A workshop was also being hosted by NASTAD from December 5 to December 7 in Washington, D.C., to address African American perspectives of the public health system and strategies for partnering with African American communities.

When addressing factors related to the disproportionate rates, the CDC notes stigma as a major roadblock. "African American MSM face stigma and discrimination on multiple levels. Some feel unaccepted in the predominantly white, established gay community, and many are affected by the stigma of homosexuality common across racial and ethnic groups," according to the CDC report. "This stigma, coupled with racism common in many areas, makes the challenges faced by African American MSM particularly severe."

The report also includes an action agenda that outlines steps necessary to reach CDCís goal of cutting new infections in half over the next five years. At the top of the list of action steps is prioritizing prevention for MSM of Color.

Updated: Friday, December 7th 2001


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