Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

Fenway & AIDS Action Screens "AIDS in Black America"

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Feb 12, 2014

In Boston on Valentine's Day, February 14, AIDS Action will partner with Fenway Health and Harvard University Center for AIDS Research to screen the PBS documentary "Endgame: AIDS in Black America," followed by a discussion.

"African Americans and other Black populations are disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS. That was the case at the start of the AIDS epidemic and that disparity has only deepened with time," said Rebecca Haag, CEO of AIDS Action Committee. "We need to keep talking about the issue, and to keep bringing attention and resources to it."

AIDS Action currently provides services to one-in-six people in Massachusetts living with a diagnosis of HIV, and 40 percent of the agency's clients are Black. Since 1999, working with our partners around the state, AIDS Action has helped reduce new HIV diagnoses in Massachusetts by 52 percent, which has meant that nearly 6,300 people who might otherwise have become HIV positive have remained negative, and more than $2.4 billion in HIV-related health care costs will be saved. AIDS Action has done this by targeting those populations most vulnerable to HIV infection, including US and non-US born Black women and Black gay and bisexual men.

AIDS Action provides outreach, education and prevention services to Black men and women vulnerable to HIV in two critical ways: via the MALE Center, and the Bayard Rustin Breakfast.

The MALE Center promotes the well-being of all gay and bi men by offering free confidential rapid HIV testing (with approximately 900 tests conducted annually), low threshold mental health counseling, distribution of prevention and safer sex materials in bars and nightclubs, and a variety of social groups focused on healthy living and social interaction.

According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual men are at least 44 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population. In the period of 2006 to 2010, there has been a 48 percent increase in new HIV incidences among Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) aged 13-29.

The MALE Center reaches out to Black gay and bisexual men, with "My Brother’s Keeper," a monthly discussion group where men of color meet with nationally recognized leaders in the community to share strategies and solutions that others have used successfully to be more open about their lives and their health with their families, church communities and friends.

For 23 years, AIDS Action has hosted the Bayard Rustin Breakfast, a community event that annually brings together nearly 500 Black community members infected or affected with HIV. Named for Bayard Rustin, one of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement who was gay, the Breakfast celebrates those who have shown uncommon courage in fighting HIV/AIDS in communities of color. This year’s Bayard Rustin Breakfast will take place Saturday, April 12, 2014.

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with HIV. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services.

AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state and federal levels.

Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. In 2013, AIDS Action formed a strategic alliance with Fenway Health that will allow the two organizations to work more closely together and improve delivery of care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

"Endgame: AIDS in Black America," will be screened from noon-4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14 at AIDS Action Committee, 75 Amory St., in Boston. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Keturah Blalock at or 617-450-1510.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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