AFRICAN AMERICANS: Don’t Model Programs on Gay Community
"An effective approach to decreasing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African-American community must acknowledge and affirm the diversity of the community," rather that relying on a set of interventions crafted for the needs of gay white men, says Cleo Manago, CEO and founder of the Amassi Health Wellness and Cultural Affirmation Center in Los Angeles. Writing in Sunday's Los Angles Times, Manago asserts that because "African Americans have traditionally resisted publicly acknowledging homosexuality," the "concepts of cultural affirmation, pride and activism -- so crucial to the gay community's success -- were not carried over or implemented." Many African Americans "who are homosexual or bisexual do not identify with the term 'gay' or the gay movement." At the same time, African-American women may not feel comfortable participating in gay organizations, which also may alienate some at-risk youth who then fall through the cracks. Manago suggests a more effective approach specifically tailored to the black community, alluding to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor's declaration of an "AIDS emergency" for the county's minorities. He argues that such a declaration without revamping the approach will only create a "multimillion-dollar public health disaster." Manago suggests addressing the "culture of silence and shame connected to men and health care and homosexuality," emphasizing that AIDS is not a "poor black person's disease," affirming "marginalized communities within the African-American community" and addressing self-esteem issues (Manago, 10/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.