Young, African-American men who sleep with men (MSM) are among fastest growing demographic groups for new HIV infections, according to Andrew Ruffner, director of the University of Cincinnati's Early Intervention Program (EIP), an HIV testing and prevention program.
UC's Department of Emergency Medicine is among a group of agencies that will host a forum Monday, Sept. 26 titled, “Responding to the Crisis: Black MSM and HIV in Cincinnati” in order to educate the community about this growing trend.
Organizers say the event will discuss risk reduction and health improvement. Eric Washington, STD Program Director at the Cincinnati Health Department, says the goal is “to reach community members to discuss the challenges facing this group and methods to encourage behavior change, limit new infections and improve sexual health.”
UC estimates that African-American MSMs account for one in five infections its EIP program has diagnosed during the last five years, with many members of the demographic unaware of their infection. This demographic is the only group to have experienced a statistically significant increase in new infections between 2006 and 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The organization hosting the event is called the Cincinnati Regional Advisory Group and consists of local, publicly funded agencies including the Cincinnati Health Department, Central Community Health Board, Planned Parenthood and IV-CHARIS, along with UC.
The event, which will take place 6-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26 at the American Red Cross, 2111 Dana Ave., in Evanston, will also include an educational session for health care and social workers on how to discuss HIV with young, African-American MSMs.
“We’re not thinking about HIV as a public health problem that affects this population,” Ruffner says, “and as a result, the preventative messages aren’t being directed in the places we need to direct them. We need people to be aware that this is a real problem that is not going away unless we start talking about it.”
Registration is not required but requested. To register for the forum, call Cathy Siemer at (513) 584-7535.