Enhancing HIV Prevention Services to Young Gay Men
via Gay City News, by Perry Halkitis
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Snip - First, most HIV prevention programs are based on deficit models — in other words, we focus on behaviors of risky gay men and build programs around reducing their risk. But for every two young gay men who engage in unsafe sex and use drugs there are likely eight who do not. We have as much (if not more) to learn from these young gay men who demonstrate healthy behaviors as we do by designing programs around risky men. For years, psychologists have understood that you study your success stories and try to emulate what is being “done right.” Those providing HIV prevention services have not fully understood the benefit of such an approach.
Second, HIV prevention programs that seek to understand the complexities of health issues for gay men must also celebrate the resilience of the gay community and our successes. As a population, we have been burdened and devastated by HIV — but we also have survived, and we continue to make viable and significant contributions to our society. We have supported each other throughout the first 15 years of the epidemic when death surrounded us, and somehow we have managed to maintain our place in the world. Thus, HIV prevention programs must acknowledge and celebrate this resilience.
Finally, HIV prevention programs must recognize our success in other parts of our lives. We are highly educated. We often have successful careers as well as meaningful friendships, partnerships and marriages. These elements must be brought into discussions of HIV prevention.
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