September 12, 2011
On Aug. 11, 75 health professionals, city officials, and civic representatives gathered at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago's south side to discuss ways to reduce HIV/AIDS among young black men who have sex with men (MSM). Entitled "Conversations: A Discussion on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Impact for Black Gay/Bisexual Men in Chicago," the event was hosted by the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus (CBGMC).
CDC figures released in August show new HIV infections among black MSM ages 13-29 increased 48 percent between 2006 and 2009. In Chicago, infections among this group rose by 62 percent between 2005 and 2008, city Department of Public Health records indicate.
Factors that could be contributing to the spike include unemployment, substance abuse, inadequate sex education, mental health concerns, and lack of access to health care, according to a presentation by Dr. John Schneider, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Chicago.
"At a time where we've seen advances in scientific technology that help to reduce both the spread and the mortality of HIV, we are still seeing black [MSM] become infected and die more than our white and Latino counterparts," said Keith Green, federal affairs director for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and co-chair of CBGMC.
Attendees drafted a list of suggestions that could help community leaders, health care providers, and city officials. Working to reduce homophobia in the black community was a common concern, as was funding. "We don't have the collaboration we need," said Veronica Brown of the governor's office.
Green said CBGMC would host a second event aimed at incorporating young people's voices and creating youth-led solutions.
For more information about the event, visit http://chiblackgaycaucus.org/2011/07/conversations_nhas__bmsm/.