June 3, 2011
CDC's "Know Where You Stand" prevention campaign urges African-American men who have sex with men to learn their HIV status. Launching in 14 cities, the outreach has recently put up billboards in Oakland and San Francisco calling for black MSM to "Get Tested. Know More."
Banner ads touting the same message are running on several websites that target black MSM, including LOL Darian, Black Gay Chat Live, and DowneLink. The campaign also will feature prominently at Black Pride events across the country this summer.
CDC consulted 19 black MSM stakeholders to assist in developing the campaign, a group that ranged from community leaders to researchers. Ernest Hopkins, legislative director for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, was one of those who helped CDC "go through the literature and test campaign ideas to really begin to understand what would be needed in order to address this population in a culturally appropriate way."
Another consultant was Venton Jones, a D.C.-based senior program associate for communications and member education at the National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition. The campaign message of "knowing your truth" is designed to get men not only to test for HIV but also take care of their health in general, he said. "It is powerful just in the title itself to know where you stand, and that is making sure you get tested and if you are positive, to start treatment," Jones noted.
"Know Where You Stand" is part of CDC's Act Against AIDS, which launched in 2009 as a multi-pronged, five-year campaign.
Data show black MSM are the group most disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. A 2008 CDC study of 21 US cities found that 28 percent of black MSM were HIV-positive, of which 59 percent were unaware of their infection.