Showing posts with label Gay and Black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay and Black. Show all posts

December 13, 2018

Close Sexual Groups/Networks Are Responsible for the High HIV Rates on The Gay Black Community


By Tim Fitzsimons( reports on LGBTQ news for NBC Out.)
Young black men who have sex with men (MSM) face a disproportionate risk of acquiring HIV because of “dense sexual networks” and other structural factors, not high-risk sexual activities, according to a new study conducted by Northwestern University.
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes, surveyed MSM in Chicago and found young black MSM in the city are 16 times more likely to have HIV than their white counterparts, despite lower numbers of sexual partners, less unsafe sex and more frequent testing for HIV.
“Our study illuminates how HIV disparities emerge from complex social and sexual networks and inequalities in access to medical care for those who are HIV positive,” said senior study author Brian Mustanski, a professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and director of its Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing.
“Their social and sexual networks are more dense and interconnected, which from an infectious disease standpoint makes infections transmitted more efficiently through the group,” Mustanski said in a statement shared with NBC News. “That, coupled with the higher HIV prevalence in the population, means any sexual act has a higher chance of HIV transmission.” Other factors that researchers probed were stigma, victimization, traumatic experiences and sexual abuse. Young black MSM reported the highest rates of these risk factors, which, according to study co-author Michael Newcomb, contribute to the “difficulty in establishing viral suppression.”
Young black MSM, according to Newcomb, were also found to be the “most likely to have sex with people of their own race.” This, he added, means “it takes HIV less time to travel around that network, particularly if prevalence is already higher and viral suppression is already lower.” He also noted that there is stark racial and geographical segregation between white and black men who have sex with them in Chicago, which is a contributing factor.
While he Northwestern study looked specifically at Chicago, Mustanski said the higher incidence of HIV among young black MSM can be extrapolated in varying degrees to other parts of the country.
“National data also shows big differences in the rate of HIV diagnosis between black and white young gay men. There are large differences consistently found across different parts of the U.S.,” he explained. “In some cities, it’s three to five times higher; in other cities it’s as much as 20 times higher.”
Mustanski said the difference is particularly pronounced in the South, which is most impacted by new HIV diagnoses. “There is a history of large racial disparities in the South in terms of access to health care, poverty and education,” he said. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that, if trends were to continue, half of all black gay men will acquire HIV in their lifetimes. But some places, like New York City, have made an impact on HIV incidence in black and Latino MSM populations, even while other places have seen disparities worsen.
Newcomb said this new study finally provides data to support what had up to this point been a widely held hypothesis: that the dense, segregated sexual networks of young black men who have sex with men are the main drivers of their higher HIV rates.
Ethan Morgan, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing and another of the study’s authors, said by learning more about young black MSM social networks, “we can better understand what drives such persistent racial disparities in HIV — and close that gap.”
Phill Wilson, president, and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute said he was not surprised by the study’s findings.
“If I am a black gay man and primarily sexually active with other black gay men, that fact alone puts me at higher risk,” Wilson explained. “If I am a white gay man, and I usually protect myself, and in the heat of a night I have an experience, my price for that experience is not the same as the price is if I am a young black gay man.” Because of “dense sexual networks,” which were pointed out in the Northwestern study, Wilson said a gay black man who “has one slip” by having unprotected sex with another gay black man has a higher chance of a “lifelong diagnosis, and then furthermore, he’s demonized.”
“You have folks who don't have as much information about things like TasP or PrEP or PEP, or even behavioral interventions,” he said, referencing new prevention methods that use HIV medications to eliminate the risk of HIV transmission.
“To be completely honest, the messenger matters, and there’s an infrastructure within black MSM communities,” said Wilson. “We are not going to solve the problem among this population unless and until institutions that are about, and by, and for them are properly, sufficiently supported with the infrastructure they need to succeed.”
Wilson pointed to proactive efforts by African-American community organizations like his own as a solution. Since opening a PrEP clinic, the Black AIDS Institute has increased the number PrEP-using black gay men in Los Angeles County by 50 percent, he said.

August 10, 2018

Black Gay and Becoming Visible (The New York Times)

Darnell L. MooreCreditEric Carter 
By Ijeoma Oluo

Coming of Age Black and Free in America 
By Darnell L. Moore  

The famous opening words of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” — “I am an invisible man … invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” — have long resonated with many black people in the United States. The idea of blackness, crafted by generations of white supremacy, has been paralyzing and narrow. Black Americans have struggled to free themselves of these limited expectations, to transcend being seen simply as the brutish thug on the corner, the sassy and strong black woman, the cheerfully selfless mammy, or the mindless entertainer. This invisibility, denying the complexity of who we really are as human beings, has constantly threatened our own sense of self and undermined our ability to realize our full potential — as well as provided a justification for centuries of societal and institutional abuse and exploitation.

But for L.G.B.T.Q. black folk, it has been worse, a double bind. Not only have they had to contend with racism, disabling as it is for all black people, but their identities as queer and trans living in a patriarchal and dominantly heterosexual world has added an extra burden, including one often imposed by their own communities. It’s a further assault on the psyche.

In “No Ashes in the Fire,” Darnell Moore writes a deeply personal memoir of growing up in the crosshairs of racism and homophobia in Camden, N.J., in the 1980s and ’90s. Walking us through his early life as a gay black child of an impoverished 16-year-old mother and 15-year-old father, Moore shows the brutality that many young, queer black people face. We see the bias of teachers, the violent encounters with the police, the underfunding of majority-minority schools, the dehumanizing desperation of systemic poverty and the violence of neighborhood bullies.

It is a harsh environment, yet the most pervasive violence in this book is not physical — it’s the violence of erasure. As a boy trying to be seen for his academic talents in a world that expects little more than anger from black boys, as a boy trying to understand his sexuality in a world that sees black men as symbols of hyper-heterosexuality, Moore is constantly forced to choose between safety and identity — often with dangerous consequences either way. The amount of mental energy it takes to constantly re-evaluate how much of yourself you can expose is soul-crushing. 

This personal struggle also gives him insight. “I am a black man who has loved and been intimate with men and women, a black man who defies societal norms, a black man who grew up in the age of hip-hop and AIDS, and a black man from the hood,” Moore writes. “I couldn’t write a memoir full of life stories without animating all the invisible, and not-so-hidden, forces that rendered my blackness criminal, my black manhood vile, my black queerness sinful, and my black city hood.”

But despite the shocking cruelty depicted in this book, Moore also infuses the pages with great humanity — humanity capable of great horror and even greater beauty. Moore’s descriptions of parental hands that could be a source of love as well as pain reminded me of some of the most beautiful scenes in “Moonlight,” a film that also revealed the young life of a queer black man. And the honest affection that Moore shows for the black women in his life who carried him through the hardest of times, and the black queer community that helped him find his way to loving his whole self, keeps the book from drowning in the bleak reality he describes.

The reader will arrive at the end of this book with a respect for Moore and the many levels of self-realization he has reached, excited to see his already admirable career as a writer, advocate and activist continue to grow. I found myself thinking of all of the black boys I grew up with who also seemed invisible. The boys who were told that their creativity, their softness, their queerness and their beauty were incompatible with their blackness. They will certainly see themselves in Moore’s story and, let’s hope, feel a little bit less alone EDITORS’ PICKS Ijeoma Oluo is the author of “So You Want to Talk About Race.”

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook and TwitterA version of this article appears in print on
 , on Page 14 of the Sunday Book Review

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