Friday, June 25, 2010

Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus to Host Historic Community Input Forum June 30

It is our hope that this forum will challenge us to take the microscope off of the individual, and really begin to zoom in on the institutions and institutional policies that impact the sexual health of the Black MSM population.

The Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus (CBGMC), with support from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), will host an unprecedented Community Input Forum to discuss the development of HIV/STI Prevention and Treatment Guidelines for Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chicago during Black Pride Weekend.

A collaborative effort with Chicago Windy City Black Pride and Windy City Black Pride, the forum will be held Wednesday, June 30th from 6p – 8p at the opening receptions of both pride organizations, Club Escape (1530 E. 75th Street) and Sidetrack (3349 N. Halsted), respectively. The forum will simulcast live from both locations to afford attendees the opportunity to participate in an interactive dialogue and witness what is happening at the other via large screen TVs.

“Black Pride Weekend is a key time in the City of Chicago to address and find solutions to issues that are affecting the African American LGBT community,” said Keith Green, chair of the CBGMC Policy and Advocacy Committee.  “We are excited to work with the Black Pride organizations to bring forth this groundbreaking platform on one of the most pressing issues within our community – HIV and STI prevention and treatment.  This is exciting stuff!”

The urgent need to establish HIV/STI Prevention and Treatment Guidelines for Black MSM in Chicago became apparent when, in 2009, the Chicago Department of Public Health released a report that found alarmingly higher rates of HIV in Black MSM compared to White and Latino MSM, despite the fact that there were no differences in how often they used condoms or how regularly they tested for HIV.

“There is obviously something going on at the community level that we as advocates and service providers have not tapped into,” said CBGMC Co-Chair Ariq Cabbler. It is our hope that this forum will challenge us to take the microscope off of the individual, and really begin to zoom in on the institutions and institutional policies that impact the sexual health of the Black MSM population. Though the Guidelines are being developed specifically for providers who encounter and work with Black MSM, they will also be made available to Black MSM through various mediums, to equip these men with information necessary for taking ownership of our own sexual health.”

Confirmed panelists include: Rodney Perkins, RN, MSN (Clinic Coordinator for the Gay Men’s Health and Wellness Clinic at the Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, DC), Jim Pickett (Director of Advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago), Anthony Galloway (Prevention Manager at Test Positive Aware Network), Lora Branch, MS (Director of Administration for the Chicago Department of Public Health STI/HIV Division), Beau Gratzer, MPP (Director of Community Health at the Howard Brown Health Center) and “Aruba” Tommy Bennett (Of The Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of “He Say, He Say” on WVON).

[The mission of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus is to mobilize and empower Black gay men and their allies to identify solutions to prevent new HIV infections by addressing the well-being of Black men who have sex with men. It is a coalition of public and private providers, business owners, club managers, promoters, and community activists dedicated to improving health outcomes for African American gay and bisexual men.]

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