By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
DETROIT – According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of five major cities, 47 percent of black gay and bisexual men are HIV positive. While the study, which was cited in a recent Black AIDS Institute statement, omitted Detroit, one of the statement’s signers says that AIDS is a real problem here as well. (See “An Open Letter to Black Gay and Bisexual Men” )
AIDS Partnership Michigan Associate Executive Director Hank Millbourne said that the June CDC study is important for Detroit because “while Detroit wasn’t included, [the CDC] looked at large urban areas with similar demographics to Detroit. When we look at the latest statistics from the Michigan Department of Community Health … we’ve seen decreases in all categories except African American men, especially men who have sex with men. That very much mirrors what has happened in the five cities that were part of the CDC report.”
Millbourne said that he feels that the African-American community’s efforts to combat the epidemic are “fragmented.”
When asked why he signed the statement he said, “I think what the idea behind this is that all of us have a role in this epidemic and we just can’t leave it to AIDS service organizations or health departments – every organization, particularly in the African-American community, has a role to play in this epidemic. I’d like to see people saying, ‘this is my fight, too.'”
Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center and The Horizons Project are an example of organizations taking on a small role in that fight. Affirmations will host “Brother to Brother,” a three-session program aimed at reducing HIV/STD infection among African American gay and bisexual men, beginning Sept. 10 for three consecutive Saturdays. The program, a service of The Horizons Project, is designed to educate participants about HIV/AIDS risk and teach skill negotiation and communication skills. Food and gift incentives will be provided for each session, but in order to receive all incentives, participants must attend all three sessions. The incentives include gift certificates to Target, Blockbuster Video, and STAR Theaters. For more information about the program, which will be held from 8-9 p.m., contact Anthony, Amani or Dwain at 313-924-8230.