A very interesting interview with longtime HIV/AIDS researcher Gregorio Millett at Black AIDS Weekly. Millett, the Senior Policy Adviser in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, is helping to develop the Administration's effort to develop our country's first National AIDS Strategy. Millett talks to BAW about incorporating black gay men in the NAS:
I used to bristle at the stigmatization of Black gay men--that HIV prevalence was likely higher in our community because of promiscuous sex and rampant drug abuse. It compelled me to conduct a series of research studies while at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that proved that Black men who have sex with men, and African Americans generally, do not engage in higher-risk behaviors that place us at greater risk for HIV infection. In fact, I found that existing community prevalence, density of sexual networks and less access to care likely explained the racial disparities in infection rates.
On the myth that the "down low" fuels the soaring HIV rates in the black community:
Another gross generalization that I tried to shed light on through research was the "down low" and its relationship to HIV infection among African Americans. My colleagues and I were among the first to scientifically prove with quantitative data that identifying as "down low" was not associated with greater sexual-risk behaviors with male or female partners; nor was it associated with a greater likelihood of HIV infection. Dr. Kevin Fenton at the CDC recently used the data to dispute the role of the "down low" in HIV-infection rates among African Americans.
The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) had its first meeting about two weeks ago and announced its 24 new members, including Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Phill Wilson. PACHA also serves the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and will play an important role in providing input for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
The entire interview is here.