The Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus organized a community forum, ”Conversations: A Discussion about the Impact of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy on Black Gay/Bisexual Men in Chicago.” The event, sponsored by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Center, was held August 11, 2011 at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago’s Southside. The purpose was to respond to recent CDC statisics that showed a 48% increase in HIV incidence among Black gay and bisexual men (and especially youth) across the U.S., the 62% increase among Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chicago, and how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Implementation Plans will impact and improve local efforts to reduce new HIV infections the community. The event brought together members of the community, service providers, and public health officials.
The opening presentation by John A. Schneider, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Chicago) included research findings on Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Chicago area that focused on respondents’ social, sexual, and health center networks. Below are the documents that he referenced during his talk, which were also presented during the 2011 International AIDS Society Conference in Rome:
- 1. Schneider_LayAbstract_YBMSM_Network
- 2. Schneider_110524_Affiliation_Poster
- 3. Schneider_IAS_ BMSM_Poster 110622
Next, four breakout groups, comprised of 15-20 participants each, convened to encourage more dialogue, solicit suggestions, share concerns and then reported highlights of their work back to the full of participants.
At the conclusion of the evening, a moderated panel discussion featuring three local public health officials and a University of Chicago peer advocate shared responses to breakout sessions, addressed what activities are underway to curb the epidemic, and shared thoughts on next steps. The panel included:
- Chris Brown (Assistant Commissioner of Public Health for the STI/HIV/AIDS Division, City of Chicago)
- David D. Robertson (Peer Advocate, Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago)
- Sidney Thomas (Director of Provider Relations, Cook County Health & Hospital Systems; CBGMC officer)
- Mildred Williamson (HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health)
Co-moderators for the evening were Keith R. Green (CBGMC Co-Chair; Director of Federal Affairs at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago) and Craig W. Johnson (CBGMC Policy & Advocacy Committee; Community Health Promoter, Rush University Medical Center Section on Infectious Diseases).
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Windy City Times article about the “Conversations” event: http://bit.ly/pJewMr
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention HIV Incidence Report (8/3/11): www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/incidence.htm
Chicago Department of Public Health Fall 2010 HIV Surveillance Report: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/infectious_disease/STI_HIV_AIDS/STIHIVChicagoFall2010a.pdf
CBGMC OFFICERS’ RESPONSES TO CDC AND CDPH DATA:
“We are beyond a state of emergency,” said Ariq Cabbler, CBGMC co-chair and administrator for Brother’s Health Collective. “We are in a state of crisis, which gets progressively worse with every new dataset released.”
“This is the first time that an American President has put forth a comprehensive plan to address the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, and ensure that underrepresented populations and those hardest hit by the disease are given top priority,” states Keith Green, CBGMC co-chair and director of federal affairs at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “The Strategy is a game-changer for how we move forward with HIV prevention and linkages to care for African American communities.”
“It’s a pretty sad day when news this big isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said David Dodd, CBGMC secretary and proprietor of K-DOCK Media Group. “Apathy, however, can not be our response. We must continue to mobilize and equip our community with the tools we need to put an end to this terror that’s wreaking havoc on our brothers.”