Today, the Black AIDS Institute released its latest report, Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America. The landmark report highlights alarming data that show disproportionately high rates of HIV infections and deaths from AIDS among Black MSM, why the disparities persist and are growing worse, and the urgent need for local and national leadership to immediately address the devastating health crisis.
"Black MSM continue to be first in line when it comes to need, but remain at the back of the line when it comes to assistance," said Phill Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. "This report not only highlights the gaps and why they still exist after 30 years, but it also provides a blueprint for how to close the gaps and move those most at risk up to the front."
Black MSM account for 1 in 500 Americans, but represent nearly 1 in 4 new HIV infections. Black MSM are also significantly less likely to be alive three years after being diagnosed with AIDS than are white or Latino MSM. By the age of 25, Black gay men have a 1 in 4 chance of becoming infected with HIV.
The AIDS crisis among Black MSM is far from over and not even close to being under control.
"Current policies do not adequately address the unique needs of Black MSM in America. Local and national leaders must remain vigilant in the fight against AIDS, especially in the Black community, which continues to carry the heaviest burden," said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). "Unless we change the way we do business, we cannot reverse the epidemic. No one should be forced to the back of the line."
The report provides a plan to address the AIDS crisis facing Black MSM, which involves action at every level. Recommendations include: increasing access to vital services such as HIV testing, treatment and prevention services; reducing sexually transmitted diseases; introducing pre-exposure prophylaxis; building sustainable community infrastructure; and implementing a national plan to reduce the vulnerability of Black MSM. The report also calls on national leaders to make the fight against AIDS among Black MSM a central priority.
The Black AIDS Institute also ranked 25 cities to determine which address the HIV-related needs of Black MSM most effectively, and which do not. Among the best are Washington, DC; New York, NY; and Los Angeles, CA. Gary, IN tops the worst city list followed by Memphis, TN and Richmond, VA.
The report is the latest in a series by the Black AIDS Institute on the state of AIDS in Black America. It is being released a week prior to the International AIDS Society conference in Washington, DC, a landmark event for the global AIDS community. Although the conference theme is "Turning the Tide Together," America will not turn any tide if it does not immediately address the crisis facing Black MSM.