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U.S. News

Illinois: Confab Discusses HIV Among African-American MSM

August 12, 2009

Advocates, service providers, and other community members gathered at a July 31 conference in Chicago to respond to a new study showing a large racial disparity in HIV prevalence among local men who have sex with men. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) study found that more than 30 percent of local black MSM were infected.

While half of the MSM who tested HIV-positive did not realize they were infected, the study also brought some good news, said Jim Pickett, advocacy director for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the meeting's sponsor. "Most of those in the study get tested regularly," he said.

Service providers and others should be able to appreciate both the history and ethos of African-American MSM, said Grady Garner, director of program placement and community partnerships at DePaul University's public health program.

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People need to be receptive to the beliefs, values, customs, norms, and practices that are unique to the community or particular sub-communities, Garner said. For instance, the "house and ball" scene -- a kind of created community that functions as a family for some urban MSM -- has its own dynamics, Garner noted.

Tommy Sampson, also known as Father Tommy Avant-Garde of the House of Avant Garde, spoke about the critical importance of communicating prevention messages to young black MSM. "Until we are able to engage them, things will not change," he said.

The CDPH study is "the first time we really have qualitative data of this [racial] disparity," said Nik Prachand, a department epidemiologist. "It's not a Chicago issue. These rates are comparable to other cities." However, the CDPH study found no statistical difference between African-American and other MSM groups with respect to traditional HIV risk behaviors, he said.

Back to other news for August 2009

Adapted from:
Chicago Free Press
08.06.2009; Amy Wooten


  
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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.
 

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