We’re Getting to Zero

HIV Elimination, Black Gay Men, and Community Involvement

Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus is excited to help lead Illinois’s effort in getting to zero new infections and zero detectability.

Together with our colleagues, we realize the moral imperative of taking action today. Health can’t wait.

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, gay men of all races have been hounded by a disease that threatened to derail our lives. And while our city and state have made great strides in curbing HIV over the last decade, current data tells us that 1 in 2 Black gay men will contract HIV in our lifetime. I continue to see men in my community diagnosed on a daily basis.

This is an unacceptable crisis.

However, recent years have blessed us with new tools, like Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and testing technology that can detect acute infection (giving us the opportunity to link someone into care at the beginning of their infection, when it can make the most difference).

We also have new scientific revelations, like Treatment as Prevention and Undetectable=Untransmittable, which together tell us that achieving an undetectable viral load is in the best health interests of not only our clients but their intimate partners. Our friends, family, and loved ones deserve access to these tools and knowledge.

We have a new opportunity to stop this epidemic in its tracks and ensure that every hard-working member of our Chicago community achieves the health they deserve.

Of course, as leaders we are merely conduits to ensure that the voices, perspectives, and expertise of our communities are brought to bear on this work. How many of us have been dreaming of an end to this war with HIV? How many of us have clients who tell us every day about the things that get in the way of their health? How many of us have been directly impacted by HIV and know that having a living-wage job or affordable housing had a part to play in that?

You have the ideas that will become winning strategies. Therefore, we are creating regular and frequent opportunities for you, the community, to join in this work. From forums to webinars, interviews to online chats. We will work hard to get to you and keep a seat for you at the table.

So join us and let’s work together to Eliminate HIV, Achieve an AIDS-Free Generation, and Get to Zero!

Love Fest 2014

Annual HIV Event “LoveFest” Cancelled

Government Funding Issues Play a Major Role in Decision

(Chicago, IL – August 11, 2014) Due to unforeseen government funding issues, the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus (CBGMC) is disheartened to announce that it will not host its annual HIV testing event, LoveFest, scheduled for Sunday, August 24th.

Keep reading →

Month of Brotherly Love

CBGMC RECOGNIZES NATIONAL BLACK HIV/AIDS AWARENESS WITH MONTH OF BROTHERLY LOVE

Month-long Initiatives to Promote Togetherness Amongst Black Men

The Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus (CBGMC) will recognize February as the month of Brotherly Love to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and Black History Month. CBGMC will host and support an array of community events that will be directed at inspiring brotherly love amongst all Black men – gay, bisexual, and straight.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), observed on Thurs., Feb. 7th, provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the challenges that we continue to face in the fight against HIV/AIDS within our communities and to celebrate the many successes that we have achieved to date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black gay and bisexual men bear the greatest burden of HIV when compared to our racial and sexual counterparts. However, recent studies suggest that efforts to turn the tide on the HIV/AIDS epidemic are working – interventions have begun to decrease the number of the people unaware of their status and have linked more brothers into healthcare services.

“Together, through increased brotherly love and community mobilization, CBGMC pledges to get more Black men educated, tested, treated and involved in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS,” states Keith Green, board chairman of CBGMC. It is our hope to continue to bring together all Black men to further strategize about how we can collaborate to strengthen and improve the well-being of our community.”

On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, CBGMC has partnered with the organizers of Black Pride and a number of health organizations, including Project Brotherhood and Howard Brown Health Center,to provide the community with free HIV and STI testing.

Join CBGMC, throughout the month of February, in our efforts to challenge cultural norms, promote health management, explore relationship dynamics, and fight to protect all families – gay and straight – through the campaign for marriage equality.

Events scheduled during the month of Brotherly Love include:

 

View/Download Press Release here

 

 

Casting Call

Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus is searching for two Black men to pose for our upcoming HIS Lifestyle Guide cover. Our next issue will cover topics related to relationships. The HIS Lifestyle Guide, which reaches hundreds of Black gay and bisexual men around the Chicago area, features articles on local life, health, and overall wellness.

Check out our past issues!

Our photography will capture two Black men together in public displaying affection (e.g. touching, shared glances, etc.). The posing and scenarios will be gay-oriented but not overtly sexual in nature.

We are searching for two Black men with the following characteristics:

  • Must be older than 18yr old
  • Identifies as being of African descent
  • Photogenic
  • Comfortable demonstrating affection with another man in public setting
  • Comfortable with such a display of affection potentially being seen by people all over the world

No experience necessary. Romantic couples are encouraged to apply.

All interested parties should send:

  • Headshot and full body photos of yourself (fully clothed please)
  • Professional photography is appreciated but not necessary
  • Contact information (full name and phone number)

Please send the above information to Jason Griggs at jasong@chiblackgaycaucus.org by February 13, 2013 at 5pm for consideration.

Note: All replies are confidentially held. A small honorarium will be provided for the selected models.

We look forward to working with you!

 


Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus mobilizes and empowers Black gay men and their allies to prevent new HIV infections by addressing the well-being of Black men who have sex with men. All photography from this project will be used solely to support the work of Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus and the HIS Lifestyle Guide.

Final Results and Thanks

LoveFest 2012 was slated to be Chicago’s biggest Black gay event of the summer. Themed “Healthy.Sexy.We.,” the messaging and programming of the event were intentionally structured to be in line with the Chicago Department of Public Health’s “Healthy Chicago LGBT Community Action Plan,” and our own Healthy Is Sexy (HIS) Lifestyle Campaign.

To attract larger numbers of Black gay and bisexual men to the festival, CBGMC raised funds to secure live performances from legendary dance diva Crystal Waters, poet/spoken word phenomenon Buttaflysoul, and drag icons Cyon Flare and Mz. Ruff N Stuff. A preview edition of our HIS Lifestyle Guide was also prepared to be distributed to attendees as a LoveFest souvenir, featuring articles written for and by Black gay/bisexual men about fitness, spirituality, healthcare, public policy, and a host of other topics that our community is concerned with.

As the buzz surrounding the event increased and showtime drew closer, we anticipated that more than 750 people would be in attendance. We became more and more excited about this huge opportunity to touch such a large portion of our community with health and wellness related programming and, for the first time ever, screening beyond HIV and other STIs (for other health issues such as hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, and cardiovascular disease which also disproportionately impact Black men).

Then, before the festivities could even get underway, it started to rain…and it didn’t stop. Physical health activities such as yoga, volleyball, and kickboxing had to be cancelled. Crystal Waters’ performance and the EGOmania ball were moved to indoor venues. And Cyon’s Drag Race could not go forth on a stage that quickly became as slick as oil (stilettos and oil don’t mix).

Though our spirits were a bit dampened by the fact that we’d spent the last year planning for an event that looked like it wasn’t going to be able to happen at all, the tune of our song changed when we realized that our community was still right there with us.

We estimate that nearly 150 people still came out to the park that day. Many brave souls found refuge under tents while others simply grabbed umbrellas and went about the business as usual. Some mingled, danced, and even played football in the rain (big thanks to DJ EightBall, DJ GucciRoxx, DJ Tiger, and DJ Lora B for keeping the energy going)!

Most important, approximately 60 people accessed services at the LoveFest Health Village, which was fully operational despite the rain (thanks to the remarkable efforts of our community partners at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Howard Brown Health Center).

Data from the many screenings conducted within the Village confirm what CBGMC has believed to be true for quite some time; incorporating general health and wellness into HIV education, testing, and linkage to care is necessary and even desirable from the people within our community. Two-thirds of attendees screened were found to be overweight, with 33% coming in as obese. Of the cholesterol screenings conducted, 20% of people screened had high cholesterol, while 25% screened below normal. Additionally, forty-percent of participants screened for hypertension were in the “pre-hypertensive” range, while nearly 20% were at Stage 1 or higher. [For a summary of Health Village results check out our Publications page]

So, although the rain altered our plans for the event overall, it had very little impact on our intention or outcome. For the past 7 years, Black gay/bisexual men have come to know LoveFest as a place where they can access culturally sensitive and appropriate healthcare screening and education, in a safe, fun, and respectful environment. Even with a constant downpour of rain, this year was no different. In fact, with such a comprehensive offering of health screenings available at the 2012 Health Village, this year may have been better. At the end of the day, that’s something that we can all be proud of and look forward to what 2013 will bring our way!

Keith Green Chairman of CBGMC Board of Directors
& the LoveFest 2012 Planning Committee

Check out pics on our Facebook too!