It’s been known for several years now that there’s a growing risk of HIV infection for men of color, and specifically black men, living in the U.S. South. That said, this silent epidemic is only now getting the attention it deserves through news coverage, documentary filming, and health alerts.
Now, the CDC is acknowledging this growing problem.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study on Thursday announcing the need to pay attention to black men and growing HIV infections among them.
“Although black (men who have sex with men, or MSM) received 6 percent of the HIV tests provided, they accounted for 36 percent of the new diagnoses in non–health care facilities,” the study found.
Plus, nearly two-thirds of black men diagnosed with HIV live in the South. The CDC wants health workers to find new ways to reach out to these men.
“Black MSM in the southern United States are the group most affected by HIV, but only a small percentage of CDC tests in the southern United States are provided to this group,” the study added.
“Increasing awareness of HIV status through HIV testing, especially among black MSM in the southern United States, is essential for reducing the risk for transmission and addressing disparities.”
The study recommends testing outreach be made in nontraditional settings and in agencies that also provide health care.
One possible route that health experts could take is to use Northwestern University’s multimedia program, which not only educates LGBTQ men about safe-sex practices but also the realities of life with HIV.
Before this, the CDC started to have a shifty relationship with organizations that supported HIV/AIDS outreach work like AID Atlanta. Despite the CDC celebrating the program, they withdres their grant to AID Atlanta last year.
That said, the CDC recently saw a change in leadership in the spring. Robert Redfield, a lifelong AIDS public health researcher, took over and is directly working under Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Hopefully, they can work together to find ways to reach out to LGBTQ black men in the South and chip away at the silent epidemic overtaking them.
h/t: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution