The South is home to the highest HIV infection rate in the nation. In the US, the group most heavily affected is men who have sex with men (MSM). With 63% new infections in this group, 55% were in young black men. In NC, two hundred forty (240) of these new diagnoses were black males 13-24 years of age of which 92% were attributed to MSM.
The high rate of HIV/AIDS we see among communities of color are not the result alone of high risk behavior in these communities, but structural inequalities that make them more likely to come in contact with diseases and less likely to treat it.
Black/African American and Latino young MSM find it hard to talk about their sexual orientation. Many fear rejection at home, and as there are almost no openly gay black role models on TV or in other media, they can feel utterly isolated.
There are so many widespread assumptions and homophobias from among service providers that cause Black MSM find it hard to be open with providers about their sexual orientation. Others say health workers didn’t recognize same-sex partners or referred patients to culturally specific healthcare services. These experiences may stop people from accessing services at all.
Public services have to work hard to make sure they serve people from all kinds of different backgrounds. Sadly, for the LGBTQ community, that doesn’t always happen.
The racial HIV gap and the racial health gap in general is strongly correlated with the racial wealth gap, which is the direct outcome of both segregation in housing, education, employment, and health care as well as racially skewed mass incarcerations. In this way, race-as it intersects with poverty, gender and sexuality.
Black and minority ethnic gay people, in particular, face problems beyond straightforward homophobia because too often our public services seem only to be able to deal with one minority issue at a time.
We as providers realize the attempts to combat HIV/AIDS through attitude and behavior modification alone is incomplete and ineffective. It is our hope that this summit will bring about more ideas and awareness through open and honest dialogue and conversation.
Every generation brings in something different, different experiences and interests. There is a need to make sure those voices are included.
People who can benefit from this summit are providers, LGBTQ community members, LGBTQ allies and families, care givers, political members, business community members, researchers, educators and other people from all other walks of life.
This summit is intended to create a better understanding between the MSM population and the providers. This can also bring about attention to the needs of the MSM Community. There is a great need for more tolerance and understanding from care and community providers. Providers will learn real life stories and experiences addressing stigma, discrimination, bigotry and abuse from the local MSM population. Participants will learn effective ways to engage communicate and build solid relationships with the community provider(s). This summit will help bridge the gaps in understanding a day in the life of an MSM living in the south as a whole. The summit will also provide an opportunity for community stake holders and providers to learn more about the challenges faced by those who identify as LGBTQ.