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Black Voices: From the Community, For the Community

At AIDS.gov, we ask that all HIV organizations assess to see how new media can extend the reach of their work. Today, we are fortunate to share with you voices from the community of men dedicated to using new media to amplify the response to HIV among black MSM.

The need for a targeted response is clear: in 2011, black/African American MSM accounted for the largest estimated number (11,805) and percentage (39%) of diagnoses of HIV infection among MSM in the U.S.  Young black/African American MSM also experienced the largest increase in numbers of diagnoses of HIV infection of all racial/ethnic groups—from 3,762 diagnoses in 2008 to 4,619 diagnoses in 2011.

This blog is the first in a series from local, regional, and national young leaders who are using new media to make a difference for black MSM at risk for HIV infection.

black_voices

We asked each of them the same question:
What are you doing to meet the needs of the Black MSM community?

And here is what they had to say.

“By sharing my story, educating, uplifting, being a source of empowerment, and most importantly listening I strive very hard to meet the needs of my community.  Through my blog PozLifeofPatrick Exit Disclaimer I share the stories, experiences, and advice of others and myself in an effort to reach an audience to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV.  Through my blog and my videos Exit Disclaimer I work to educate my fellow Black same gender-loving men, in an effort to have them step outside the box. I also speak and advocate on a national level to spread awareness on HIV and LGBTQ issues that youth and people of color face. My main focus right now lies within HIV prevention where I work to encourage more normalization of testing, increased education surrounding sexual health, reduction of stigma, and more exposure surrounding the drastically increasing infections we see in the Black MSM Community.” -Patrick Ingram, 25 years old

“The personal and the professional are one for me…it is who I am (a black gay man who is HIV +) and the difference I want to make in the world through my career choices. I’m using my own experiences to motivate, inspire and engage others to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other challenges facing Black gay men. ” -Venton Jones, 30 years old

“I am proud to speak up for the Black MSM community and for those not able, for whatever reason, to speak up for themselves. I’m determined to make a difference in our community. Utilizing my marketing and mobilization skill-set, my goal is to ensure that young Black MSM own a piece in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. I encourage my fellow young Black MSM to join me. This battle is ours and ours to win.- Anthony Roberts, Jr., 29 years old

“I am meeting the needs of the Black MSM community by actively leveraging and raising awareness about the use of digital technologies to improve the health and wellness of communities that experience a disproportionate burden of diseases such as HIV. I also provide communications-related support to health departments and programs such as the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) Policy and Advocacy Summit.- Meico Whitlock

“There is no instruction for being a marginalized member of a community that is only recognized through sexual behavior especially when that sex is often revered as deviant. Part of the need for black MSM is affirmation from other black MSMs who are willing to live victoriously out loud & self-affirmed. So to help furnish this need I consider myself loud in presence for my community; voice accounted for, vulnerable to no fault and available. It is in my availability that I hope to give others permission to exist & self-love without limitations.-Ken Williams, 30 years old.

In the coming weeks and months, each of these men will be sharing their stories and sharing their voices.

But first, we’d like to hear your voice. What are you doing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and every day to address the needs of Black MSM?

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