Until now, most HIV/AIDS research has focused on gay white men, disproportionately affected by the AIDS when it was discovered in the 1980s. However, a new study conducted by the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta is focusing exclusively on gay black men—certainly not as well organized as their white counterparts but disproportionately impacted by the disease.
This research complements studies now being undertaken in San Francisco and Boston and hopes to determine if a single-pill tenofovir regimen is safe for people who are HIV-negative. The trials have created a debate about gay sexuality within the black community and its attitude toward safe sex. "A lot of people in the black gay community are looking for love so they have sex because they think that means that that person loves them," says Duncan Teague, recruitment coordinator for the project and a member of ADODI Muse, the activist and performance ensemble. "The black gay community has become complacent about HIV and STDs as a whole."
The report from UK-based Reuters says researchers chose Atlanta because "it is considered by some the gay capital of black America" and "despite the large numbers of at-risk men, [the] lack of organization within the gay black community had made it harder to promote awareness and mobilize against AIDS, which in addition had killed some community leaders." More on the dynamics within Atlanta's black gay community in comments here.
One final note: Researchers are finally realizing that black men have been reluctant to participate in HIV/AIDS studies because of "the legacy of the notorious" 40-year-long Tuskegee experiment. True, but hopefully studies such as this and its counterparts in San Francisco and Boston can rewrite history.
Black Men in Focus in U.S. HIV Trial (Reuters)
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