Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Launches
February 17, 2006
On Feb. 7 at Steelelife Gallery in the Bronzeville section of Chicago, a group of black gay community leaders, businessmen and activists publicly launched the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus (CBGMC). The group aims to create new perspectives and new strategies to fight HIV.
A five-city CDC study released last summer found that 46 percent of black gay and bisexual men tested were HIV-positive, and two-thirds were unaware of their HIV status. "It became apparent that we had to do something," said Keith Green of Test Positive Aware Network.
Green and other black gay men began formal meetings last August with community leaders from organizations, businesses and religious groups. CBGMC grew from those meetings. Last week's launch unveiled the group's first HIV prevention effort, a music video and public service announcement to encourage men to learn their HIV status.
Green wrote the material, which was produced with help from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). The hip-hop-flavored video/PSA features various men flirting, dancing and interacting under the tag line, "I know. Do you know?" CBGMC is talking with the Kaiser Foundation and Kenneth Cole about using the video/PSA in HIV prevention campaigns, but the group intends to extend its reach much farther.
"There are so many other factors we have to address," Green said. "Homophobia is something we have to address."
The Rev. Charles Straight, assistant pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church, noted that involving the larger black community and educating black church leaders is a vital part of the effort.
Dr. Terry Mason, CDPH commissioner, said HIV risk amounts to a "crap shoot" for black gay men. He said a first step is to convince black gay men, especially younger men, to use condoms.
Chicago Free Press
02.15.2006; Gary Barlow
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.