I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by Emory University’s Dr. Malebranche and I left with such a new outlook on health disparities within Black/AfAm MSM community. I’ll be completely honest and say that I expected the conversation to be the same one I’ve been hearing for the past 5 years “Black men on the DL are the biggest contributing factor to the spreading of HIV”.
In the last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot of articles from the American Journal of Public Health and in not so many words they’ve basically said “that theory is bull”. It’s true that HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects this community but what isn’t true is that these men aren’t using protection while they’re doing it. Studies are consistently showing that even though Black men are less likely to self-identify as Gay or Bisexual, there is no specific correlation to engaging in risky sexual behavior, more specifically unprotected anal intercourse (UAI).
The problem then isn’t what folks choose to call themselves but a more nuanced occurrence that needs more research and a more multi-pronged analysis. At the very least we (service providers) would like to get more men in to get tested as best we can. Let’s start by getting folks aware of their services and then simultaneously work toward the prevention aspect from within the community…because currently, many of the interventions being used (i.e. DEBI) are not culturally competent/relevant…it’s as if they slapped some kinte cloth and called it a ‘black specific program’…let’s start working together to end these disparities and inequities. Let’s stop forcing our brothers to hate themselves, to think about their sex and sexuality as ‘risky’ because there are a lot of brothers out there having sex…safely…and not becoming infected.