Posts Tagged ‘Black Community’

Bishop Long, AIDS and bad behavior

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Although, it’s almost a dead issue in terms of the media, the Bishop Eddie Long case, was and still is an important issue. As the pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, he was accused of allegedly using his position and power as well as his role as a father figure to pursue sexual relationships with younger men in his congregations. Beyond the spectacle of the scandal, there were several underlying issues that weren’t addressed in the media. For weeks, I read article after article following all the positions as the allegations played out on the radio and television. It’s well known that Bishop Long used his position to demonize homosexuality, the very thing he was being accused of. As stated by crunktastic in the article, The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Sex and Power in the Black Church, “What Long has been accused of doing isn’t about sex. It’s about power, as sexual abuse generally is.” He used role as a pastor to stigmatize and demoralize others, some who may be his own parishioners. Abusing his power as a religious leader and father figure. In a Clutch Magazine article, Zettler Clay writes, “A pastor is a pastor because enough people have been convinced that he/she has divine knowledge that eludes the majority of the congregation. When power is enforced under this criteria, potential for abuse and disillusionment is present. The scandals of malpractice, negligence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, you name it, has run rampant as long as these relationships have been around.”

Bishop Long is not the first religious figure to abuse his power and unfortunately won’t be the last. In all of the misfortune, accusations and confusion this case created, it also brought to surface some very serious issues long ignored by the Black Church. Issues around the role the church plays in promoting and encouraging homophobia, its lack of leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the role the clergy plays in the abuse of power.  Of course, the abuse of power doesn’t solely exist in the Black Church but it’s significant in terms of its connection to homophobia and HIV. For the first decade and a half, the Black church was absent or barely present in the fight against AIDS. In addition, as seen with the sermons of Bishop Long, the persecution of gays and homosexuality alienated many who went to church for the comfort and security they needed. If one was gay and HIV+, there was no place for you at your home church. A clear case of the disconnect between the church and the community at large. The Black Church is feeding the hungry, sending students to college and building affordable homes, but still alienating and ignoring members of its congregation. In the article, In the Wake of Eddie Long-What’s the State of the Black Church?, Davey Day says “We could go on and on listing examples of where Black churches have stepped up to walk the walk and back up the talk. With all that being said, those of us who are members of a church still have to grapple with the challenging questions before us; ‘Is there a disconnect between the Black church and its aforementioned good works and the community at large?’ If so how and why is that happening?”

How do we begin the process of healing and end the scapegoating. Well, despite the role the church has played in building a history of intolerance and fear. The actions and behavior of Bishop Long lies solely with him. We can’t just blame the Black church, it’s leadership, “Down Low” men or the Black media’s lack of response to the AIDS crisis. There is a responsibility that each and everyone of us must take. What the Bishop Long case should do, is encourage us all to evaluate ourselves and our role in encouraging bad behavior. As Davey D stated in the above mentioned article, “It should inspire us to do some serious self examination. This should be the case if you’re a member of a congregation and it should be the case for the entire body. Self examination should be a constant endeavor.”

In a speech to Essex County College on World AIDS Day 2010, former Congressional candidate and author Kevin Powell said, “We need to stop scapegoating each other. HIV and AIDS is not about “Down Low” men or any other person or group, its simple about bad behavior.

When Bishop Long allegedly used his influence, wealth and power to seduce those young men, it was less of an issue of a possible being gay man on the “Down Low” but a man who was behaving irresponsible. A man who was using his position to get and do what he wanted. When we encourage someone we love to not practice safe sex, that’s bad behavior. When we have sex with someone knowing that we are infected with a STD or HIV, that’s bad behavior. When we don’t use a condom, take regular HIV tests or talk to our partners about having a healthy sex life, that’s bad behavior.

We must move beyond the divide and conquer of blaming “Down Low” brothers for AIDS in our community or playing to people’s shame and insecurities so much that they are afraid to come out to their church community, forcing folks to hide who they are. The church must open its doors to those who are HIV+ by having safe spaces and providing needed services to those infected and affected by HIV. We must figure out how to talk about sex and sexual relationships in an open and honest way in the church. We can change the dynamics of the church, where we empower parishioners to play an active role in the improvement of their lives and sexual health.

As we move into a new year, we must consider the consequences of our individual bad behavior and lack of responsibility. And make a commitment to be more accountable to our loved ones and those who come to us for strength, understanding and compassion. With the added stress of joblessness, unemployment and underemployment, the lack of proper healthcare, limited affordable housing and the increase of foreclosures, we should at least be able to find comfort and honesty in those we trust the most. And if not, as individuals, we can no longer follow blindly. There are no more excuses not to question anyone or accept any behavior that we suspect is bad. We must standup for our own truth. And if someone is behaving badly against us, then we must have the courage and strength to move on and know we are okay for it. Bad behavior can no longer be acceptable or tolerated. Too many lives are at risk to think its okay to behave badly.

Hip Hop, Youth Culture and AIDS

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Part 1 on a series of blogs on Hip Hop and AIDS

From time to time, I have the opportunity to work with middle and high school students. One morning, as I entered my video class, I heard one young woman singing a line from the Rick Ross song, Aston Martin Music.I love a nasty girl who swallow what’s on the menu.” It doesn’t take a genius to know what he meant or to realize the connection a young woman makes when she hears and repeats the same lyrics. The recent criticism of Ashley Judd around her comments about hip-hop and rap music reminded me of that surreal moment. In her recent memoirs, she criticized YouthAIDS, an organization she has supported, for public service announcements they made with the rappers, Snopp Dogg and Diddy. “As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with it’s rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny. “I believe that the social construction of gender — the cultural beliefs and practices that divide the sexes and institutionalize and normalize the unequal treatment of girls and women, privilege the interests of boys and men, and, most nefariously, incessantly sexualize girls and women — is the root cause of poverty and suffering around the world.” Though, all of hip-hop doesn’t deserve this criticism or subscribe to this practice of misogyny, there is a segment of the industry that profits from its perpetuation of a hyper sexual depiction of women, especially young women of color. Whether you support her comments or not, what is most significant is the connection Ms. Judd makes to rap music, sex and HIV/AIDS, one that apparently YouthAIDS failed to make.

In 2006, the RAND Corporation, a leading healthcare research organization produced the study “Exposure to Degrading Versus Non-Degrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behaviour among Youth.” Dr Steven Martino, who led the US study, said that “sexually degrading lyrics” - many graphic and filled with obscenities – caused changes in adolescents’ sexual behaviour. “These portrayals objectify and degrade women in ways that are clear but they do the same to men by depicting them as sex-driven studs. Musicians who use this type of sexual imagery are communicating something very specific about what sexual roles are appropriate, and teenage listeners may act on these messages.”

This study didn’t tell us something we didn’t already know. Walk through any urban neighborhood in any major city and listen to the kids repeat the lyrics as soon as their favorite rapper comes on the radio. But what this study doesn’t address is the connection between these lyrics and the same audience having some of the high STDs and HIV infection rates in the country.

When thinking of that 16yr old girl in my class and knowing how she was connecting sex to her favorite rap songs, all I could hope was that she was practicing safe sex. According to the CDC, “African Americans were disproportionately affected by HIV infection, accounting for 55% of all HIV infections reported among persons aged 13–24.” Approximately 50 percent of all high school students in grades nine through 12 have had sexual intercourse; almost 25 percent of all 12th graders have had four or more partners. In addition, the sexual behavior of young people is highly influenced by the use of alcohol and drugs, which decreases decision-making skills and has a negative effect on behavior, according to a study by the American Federation of AIDS Research (2001).

These are alarming statistics and yet we are not alarmed as a community. We can no longer cry foul at the mere suggestion between hip-hop and sexual misconduct. This is not what hip-hop is suppose to be, its not the hip hop of my generation. The early days of hip-hop was about bragging about how fly you were, how good you could rhyme and what rapper got all the cute girls. But, with the development of gangster rap and the introduction of drugs and gang culture into hip-hop, women went from being Fly Girls to Hos, Golddiggers, Bitches and nothing more than a good f*ck. When you consider the depiction of women in most rap lyrics (listen to any Lil Wayne or Rick Ross song) its becomes easy to see how Ms. Judd came to her conclusion. But this is not really just about rap and hip-hop. Because when Lil Wayne has faded into dust, there will be another like him, if not worse.  What this is really about is treating youth solely as a marketing commodity. Pick almost any of MTV’s shows, The Jersey Shore or Skins (also known as Porn for Teens) and you can see how drugs, sex and violence are used as marketing tools to seduce them into whatever product is being sold. And although, we need to hold these artists, tv shows, record execs and anyone who makes a profit at the expense of our children accountable for the work they produce, we as a community of adults need to be more accountable as well.

While young people are overwhelmed by messages about sex from the music they listen to, to the shows they watch. The one message they don’t get is how to make healthy decisions about sex. Researchers at APA’s Annual Convention shared some of the latest research on what affects those messages and how parents and teachers can do more to help adolescents make better decisions.

“Christopher Houck, PhD, at Rhode Island Hospital, ran a study looking into whether mentally disordered teens’ “affect regulation” skills — their ability to make good decisions in the face of strong emotions — played a part in their attitudes toward and knowledge about sex. “If you don’t have good affect regulation skills, then if someone’s pressuring you to smoke pot or have sex, you’re more likely to engage in those behaviors,” he said. In a study, Houck used questionnaires to find out about the emotional awareness, affect management skills and attitudes toward sex of 138 seventh-graders in Rhode Island who had been identified as having, or as suspected of having, mental health problems. He then ran an after-school intervention program that taught teens how to identify their own emotions and strategies for dealing with them. When Houck tested those teens again a few weeks later, they reported better emotional awareness and increased use of strategies to get out of situations they didn’t want to be in”.

The same way we want our children to be financially responsible, educational advanced and socially aware, we must also want them to be sexually mature. You may not be able to stop them from having sex any more than you are able to keep them from drinking or smoking but you can arm them with tools to address the social pressures, mentally and emotional challenges of being in a sexual relationship. Safe sex education needs to happen as early as possible as the high infection rates of STDS in middle and junior high schools shows. This can and should include abstinence programs but should not be the sole form of STD and HIV awareness and safe sex education. And all forms of safe sex education should be paired with sports programs and other after-school activities. Studies prove the physical activites improves the academic performance and self esteem of youth that participate in such programs. All this to demonstrate, that the more active youth are, the more involved in sport, social, educational and cultural activities they are. The less likely there will be unplanned preganancies, HIV inections and STDS along with drugs and alcohol abuse. The more positive influences they have, the less likely the negative influences will play a major role in their lives. The simple suggestion from a rapper’s lyric will just be that. Making sure a child has all these positive influences are not just the job of their parensts but has to be the committment of the extended family, school and community. If we make this a community effort, if we take the time and use the resources at hand, then we can make a significant difference in the lives of this generation of youth. Teen pregnancy, STD and HIV statistics will drop but it will come at a cost. It may just hurt the record sales and tv ratings of some of the most popular shows and artists but that should be a chance we can be willing to take.

National Black AIDS Awareness Events & Testing Sites

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Events will be happening all month long throughout New York City and around the country!

From the Black AIDS Day website:

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th of every year, is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatmentEducationally, the focus is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities. Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7th of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV. When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. We need Black People from all walks of life, economic classes, literacy levels, shades and tones as well as communities (large and small) to get connected to the work happening on the ground in their local areas. And lastly, for those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, getting them connected to treatment and care services becomes paramount.

Bronx BLHC Adolescent & Young Adult Health Program,
Seeromanie Baboolall,
Social Worker
2737 Third Avenue
Bronx, New York 10451

O: 718-838-1029
F: 718-838-1016

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

Bronx Project Grow/Yeshiva University
Janet Smith,
260 East 16th Street, C Level
Bronx, New York 10451

O: 718-993-3397
F: 718-993-2460

  • Other: Fact-o-mania Breakfast, Information, Games, Testing Referral and Education. Come get armed for the fight of your life.

Bronx Christ Church UCC
Rev. Bruce C. Rivera,
Executive Minister
860 Forest Avenue
Bronx, New York 10456

O: 718-665-6688
F: 718-665-5450

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

Bronx Bronx AIDS Service
SoJourner McCauley,

Community Services Coordinator
540 East Fordham Road
Bronx, New York 10458

  • Other:  We will be hosting a Singles Mixer for 21 & Over entitled “Sex, Milk and Cookies” This event will be a fun filled event with Speed Dating, Raffles and the Dating Game with
  • HIV prevention messages and information throughout the evening.  Light refreshments will be provided.

Bronx Montefiore Medical Center
Frances Rodriguez,

Patient Educator
111 East 210th Street
AIDS Center FCC-3rd Floor Clinic
Bronx, New York 10467

  • Art Competition
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Webcast

Bronx Soundview Health Care Network
Marzetta Harris,

Board of Director
731 White Plains Road
Bronx, New York 10472

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • March/Rally
  • Other:  breakfast with the churches.

Brooklyn St. Paul Community Baptist Church Glinnie Noel-Chamble,
Director – Social Justice
859 Hendrix Street
Brooklyn, New York 11207

O: 718-257-1300, x138
F: 718-535-0449

Brooklyn Caribbean Women’s Health Education, Inc.
Ann Marie Coore,
Director of HIV Program
3512 Church Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11203

O: 718-940-9501
F: 718-826-2948

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: HIV Workshop and education on site. condom negotiation skills and condom demonstration

Brooklyn Amethyst Women’s Project
Melisa Garber,

Peer Coordinator
1907 Mermaid Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11224

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

Brooklyn God’s Deliverance for Purpose Ministry Evangelist Robin Brown,Minister
731 Chauncey Street
Brooklyn, New York 11207

O: 347-394-6696
F: 917-591-5436

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

Brooklyn Turning Point
Margarita Ramos,
HIV Education Coordinator & Trainer
5220 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11220

O: 718-360-8121
F: 718-360-3965

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Providing HIV prevention education presentations & FREE HIV Testing & Counseling for high-risk homeless African American youth (16-25) & young adults in 30-day emergency shelter & transitional housing sites in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Additional Information: Will also be in collaborations with other CBOs to commemorate NBHAAD by providing prevention education and FREE HIV Counseling & Testing.

Brooklyn Watchful Eye
Divinah “Dee” Bailey,
20 New York Avenue, Suite 100
Brooklyn, New York 11216

O: 347-533-4300

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Mayoral Proclamation
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Radio Broadcast
  • TV/Cable Programming
  • Other: Mural signing and red ribbon banner unveiling.
  • Additional Information: This event will be in collaboration with the Medgar Evers College (CUNY) of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn La Nueva Esperanza, Inc.
Rico Nieves,
MSA Program Coordinator
213 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11206

O: 718-497-7592
F: 718-497-7596

  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Public Service Announcement

Brooklyn Brooklyn Community Pride Center Alicia or Danielle,
Social Work Intern
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

O: 718-802-3890 

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Guest Speakers

Brooklyn The Community Help Center, Inc.
Erlene King,
5221 Avenue D
Brooklyn, New York 11203

O: 347-298-6393
F: 347-382-7265

  • Community Forum

Brooklyn Top Development Corporation
Ujima AIDS Project
1274 Utica Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11203

  • HIV Testing
  • HIV Testing done by BATF.

Buffalo The MOCHA Center
Stephaun Wallace,

Interim Executive Director/Director of Programs
1092 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14209

  • Art Competition
  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast
  • Other:  Performing and visual arts event Monday, February 7, 2011 Program begins at 2-5 pm Cocktail hour from 5-7pm (Cash Bar)

Farrockaway Redemption Outreach International
Rev Ambrose Chalokwu,
14-25 Central Avenue, Suite 4
Farrockaway, New York 11691

O: 347-654-5062
F: 718-868-8321

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast
  • Other: Distribution of Educational and preventive materials as strategic locations from Wednesday  Feb. 9 to Friday Feb 11.
  • We will have essay/poetry competition for the youth on HIV/AIDS topics.

Ithaca Ithaca College LGBT Center
L Maurer,
LGBT Center
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, New York 14850

O: 607-274-7394 

  • Community Health Fair
  • Newspaper Article
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast

Manhattan Harlem Flava
Dolina Duzant,

620 Lenox Avenue 1E
Manhattan, New York N10037

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Other:  Handing out condoms Male and Female, Street Outreach and education.

Manhattan Latino CommissionAIDS
Ileana Morales,

Program Director
24 West 25th Street, 9th Floor
Manhattan, New York 10010

  • HIV Testing
  • Other:  We will be offering HIV testing all day at our site until 7:00pm. We will also be at St. Paul’s Church at 263 West 86th street providing HIV testing.

New York AIDS Service Center
Jean Pierre Louis,
Program Manager
41 E 11th St 5th Floor
New York, New York 10003

O: 212-645-0875
F: 212-645-0705

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: CBO Event

New York Exponents
Donald R. Powell,
Director of Development
151 West 26th Street,
Third Floor
New York, New York 10001-6810

O: 212-243-3434, ext. 145
F: 212-243-3586

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Displaying of AIDS Quilt

New York National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative
Yvette Heyliger,
Producing Artist Twinbiz
Post Office Box 1803
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-864-1611
F: 212-864-6845

  • Other: National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative is an annual event taking place on February 7th featuring readings and productions of plays about HIV & AIDS with the purpose of using theatre to fight the  relentless and ongoing infection rate in our communities!
  • Other: This is a brand new theatre initiative inspired by a mentor of mine who expressed his wish to me that Black theatre do more to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities.  We are kicking off the initiative this year with a reading of my award winning play, “What Would Jesus Do?” in Los Angeles.  We hope to gain support for National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative with more play readings and productions registered next year.

New York SisterLink
Maryam Hmudeen,
Program Associate
127 West 127th St. 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10027

O: 212-665-2600, x307
F: 212-531-2160

  • Other: HIV testing location resource and information.

New York Metro Health & Wellness Center Yvonne Hartnett,
Program Coordinator
45 East 126th Street
1975 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10035

O: 646-682-9476 or 212-289-6157
F: 212-289-6823

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: February 6, 2011, Our service will be dedicated to those living with or affected by this disease.
  • Additional Information:  We will do testing after church service.

New York Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children & Family Services
Yolanda Colon,
Program Support Aide
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd Specialized Services,
3rd Floor
New York, New York 10027

O: 212-749-3656, ext 3105
F: 212-749-0614

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

New York Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center Monique Wright,
Prevention Services Coordinator
25 Allen Street
New York, New York 10002

O: 212-226-6333
F: 212-343-8005

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: We run various support groups for people who are HIV+. We are planning on having an ad hoc group “Supporting people with HIV!”

New York Can’t Be Silenced
Maria Davis,
121 W. 115th Street # 505
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-866-1562
F: 212-866-1562

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: New Artist Showcase & Talent Competition

New York First Corinthian Baptist Church
Maria Davis, Co-Convener
1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-864-5975
F: 212-864-0830

  • HIV Testing
  • TV/Cable Programming
  • Other: Mad Wednesday’s New Artist Showcase & Talent Competition @”SHRINE”
  • World Music Venue in Harlem

New York Claremont Family Health Center Dorothy Johnson,
Medical Case Manager
262-4 E 174th St Bronx,
New York, New York 10457

O: 718-299-6910
F: 718-299-4366

  • Other: Seminar and individual sessions providing information

New York Black Men’s Initiative at Harlem United
Raynal Jabouin, Jr.,

Program Director
290 Lenox Avenue
Lower Level
New York, New York 10027

212-289-2378, x206
  • HIV Testing

New York William F Ryan Community Health Center
Cinthia M. Tejada,

Supervising Health Educator
110 W 97th Street
New York, New York 10025

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

New York New York Presbyterian Hospital- Comprehensive HIV Program
Kareen B. Jimenez,

Patient Education
180 Fort Washington Avenue
6th Floor
New York, New York 10032

  • HIV Testing

Hot Summer Sex, Hook Ups and Protecting Yourself Is Easy!!!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The summer is almost over and it’s been a hot one. Heat and sex seem to go hand in hand especially when it comes to causal sex. It’s easy to hookup with someone after an informal dinner, while at the club or at a friend’s BBQ. But, if you’re not careful, hooking up can be dangerous! Those who are hooking up or just having causal sex are more than likely sharing or overlapping sexual partners. In the article by Linda Villarosa, The Dark Side of Hookups, “Friends With Benefits” and F— Buddies, “These partnerships can speed the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Paik says. “With sequential partnerships, the disease has to wait before it can spread. Between relationships, for example, a bacterial infection can be treated. With overlapping relationships, the disease doesn’t have to wait.” When you are hooking up with several different partners and not practicing safe sex, you have a greater chance of becoming infected. It’s not always easy to remember to use a condom while in the heat of the moment.  Therefore, being prepared is crucial to protecting your sexual health. Carrying condoms, is not cocky, it’s smart! It’s better to have a condom and not use it if you don’t need it, then to be caught without one when you really need it. No longer can we make assumptions about a person’s status by just eyeballing them. The tell tale signs of someone being positive rarely exist now. You won’t know just by looking at someone or assuming that because he or she is cute then they couldn’t be infected.

One good way to protect yourself, is to always use a condom when having sex. A percentage of people who become infected usually got it by another person who didn’t know they were infected. Condom use can be one of the best ways to protect yourself. Knowing your own status is also important in not only protecting yourself, but protecting your sexual partner. As noted in the article, in regards to the high infection rates in D.C., “Nearly 50 percent of people surveyed in its hardest-hit areas reported having overlapping sexual partners in the last 12 months. Most were not aware of either their own HIV status or that of their partner, and the vast majority said that they did not use a condom the last time they had sex with their main partner, even though they were aware that the relationship might not be monogamous. This deadly mix explains why a Black woman, for example, who doesn’t “sleep around” might contract HIV, while someone else engaged in frequent episodes of unprotected sex might not become infected.” Taking a HIV test is now considered one of the best prevention methods against becoming infected. Assuming that one test positive then they can get treatment and learn how to care for themselves as well as prevent infecting someone else by not spreading the virus from one person to another. And, if they test negative, then they learn to stay negative through preventive measures and condom use.

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. It’s no easier than staying off salt, not drinking too much or watching your weight when all your favorite foods are available. These are all things that we struggle with, but not taking the proper precautions can be dangerous and in some cases deadly. Its takes practice, a concerted effort and a commitment to be healthy, the same goes for your sexual health when you practice safe sex. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth, cleaning your house or watching your weight. Keep a condom on you for those special unexpected encounters. If you are having casual sex, make sure your sexual partner(s) gets tested. Get tested with them, if it will make them feel more comfortable and less stigmatized. If they are not willing to get tested or provide information on their status, they might not be the person you wanna have sex with. Its is also important for you to be tested and provide information on your own status. To find an HIV testing location in your area, visit

Whether it’s a holiday weekend, a hot Summer night or a beautiful Fall evening, always be prepared. High and low risk sex is all the same when it comes to HIV and STDs. Every time you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of getting infected.  It only takes one careless moment to change your life. Wrap it up and be safe.

Having the “SEX” conversation with your parents

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

If you are like me, you may only have one living parent or your parents might be divorced. Either way, they may be newly single, dating and engaging in sexual relationships years after being with the same partner. Many older Americans are not aware, much less concerned about practicing safe sex despite the changing sexual landscape. The development of Viagra and other ED (erectile dysfunction) drugs has made it easier for seniors to celebrate and express their sexuality, which is the upside to ED drugs. But there is a downside, as described in the article, Men of ED drugs get more STDs, “Men prescribed drugs for erectile dysfunction are two to three times more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly HIV or chlamydia, than men who are not prescribed ED treatments, researchers report.”

As a result of these ED drugs, many senior men are now able to have a lot of sex with women their own age, but they are also engaging in sexual relationships with younger women, even with teenage girls, mostly in exchange for money, clothes or basic affection. In addition, older women are also having relationships with younger men, who themselves maybe offering sex in exchange for money or clothes. In this landscape of sexual freedom, most seniors don’t practice safe sex and are not familiar with HIV/AIDS awareness. According to the previously mentioned article by Katrina Woznicki from WebMD Health News, “Earlier research has found that people aged 50 and older are one-sixth less likely to use a condom and one-fifth less likely to be tested for HIV compared with people in their 20s.”

Therefore, many AIDS organizations are rushing to work with senior centers to provide safe sex information and HIV/AIDS education. But, more needs to be done as infection rates increase. A wide spread effort is needed that incorporates the church, family and healthcare providers. Doctors should be managing and assessing the sexual health risks and sexual activity of their older patients, including testing them for HIV. A similar discussion about sexual health risks can be held with the Women and Men ministries along with other church groups with the assistance of organizations like Balm in the Gilead and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, two organizations that already have established relationships with the Black church. Finally, adult children should talk to their parents as soon or even before they start dating about the importance of condom use and the practice of safe sex. The same “sex” talk that was hard for them will also be hard for you but will be necessary in protecting your parent’s sexual health.

We can’t leave our seniors out of the discussion, when they need us the most to provide guidance, love and support. Have that talk with your mother or father,let them know you care. It will be one of the hardest talks but could be the most rewarding.

The Black Church and AIDS

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Is it too late for the Black Church to be a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS???

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Activities

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

February 7, 2010 marks the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This is a national community mobilization, HIV testing, and treatment initiative, which promotes awareness of, and access to, services for African Americans. The theme for NBHAAD 2010 is “A Choice & A Lifestyle.”

Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35 to 44.

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).  HIV remains a persistent threat to the health, well-being, and human potential of many African American communities. As the impact of the epidemic among African Americans has grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health agencies, and African American communities have stepped up efforts to address the crisis.

NBHAAD is planned, organized and coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council*, a working group of national organizations in partnership with CDC. NBHAAD activities focus on motivating individuals to get tested and know their HIV status, and educating community members about the importance of HIV prevention, early detection, and treatment.

CDC is highly committed to reducing the impact of HIV on African American communities. CDC believes that a collaborative response by many is necessary to decrease the burden of HIV/AIDS among African Americans.  Therefore, CDC and African American leaders from business, civil rights, entertainment, government, and the media are speaking out and taking action. With these partners, CDC is intensifying HIV prevention efforts in four areas: expanding the reach of comprehensive prevention programs; increasing opportunities for HIV testing and treatment; developing new, effective prevention strategies; and mobilizing broader community action.

It is necessary for African Americans to receive the information they need to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, and to get involved in their communities.  When people affected and infected by HIV take collective action against the spread of this disease, we form a very powerful weapon. Together we can prevent HIV/AIDS, one voice, one experience, one community at a time!

What Can You Do?

  • Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
  • Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work within African American communities.
Events in Brooklyn

Friday, February 5th
National black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, United Community Baptist Church, 2701 Mermaid Ave, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.. HIV Testing, Demonstrations, Resources and Information. For more information contact Shayoya Brown at 718-333-2067

Sunday, February 7th
Pre-Conference Evening of Praise and Awareness, LIU Brooklyn Campus, 1 University Plaza, Dekalb and Flatbush Ext, Brooklyn, 4:00 p.m. Testing, Outreach, and Prevention Initiative, For more information contact Watchful Eye TOP Initiative at 347-533-4300

Monday, February 8th
Brooklyn Commemorates National Black AIDS Awareness Day, Brooklyn College Student Center, 2901 Campus Road and East 27th Street, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. Brooklyn Red Ribbon Campaign, Brooklyn HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, “Brooklyn Knows” Roll Out. For more information and to register contact Dana Burnett at 718-773-3874 or

Friday, February 12th
Heart To Heart – Love Yourself, Love Your Family Family Resource Center, 100 Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd Floor, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Free HIV Testing and Health Screenings, Food Stamp Screenings, Financial Counseling and Advice, Free Income Tax Filing, Raffle Prizes and Refreshments. For more information contact Christopher Joseph, 212-645-344 ext 136

Saturday, February 13th
During the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 10:00 A.M., Senator John Sampson and Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns will host a workshop entitled “The Saga Continues: A Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and the Impact on Communities of Color.” The workshop will be facilitated by Watchful Eye Founder Dee Bailey. All Watchful Eye Community Partners and their clients/program participants are invited and encouraged to attend this event.” For more information, contact Gwen Carter 347-533-4300 or .

Wednesday, February 24th
“Age is No Barrier” to HIV/AIDS! Did you know that in New York State, 14 percent of AIDS cases are among individuals age 50 and over, and of all the people age 50 and over with AIDS, more than half are of African or Latino descent?

The Brooklyn Regional Committee of the AIDS Institute’s Faith Communities Project invites you to a community dialogue and fellowship to discuss and to learn “What Congregations need to know about HIV/AIDS and Older Adult.” Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush, will host the program on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at the church, located at 409 East 95th Street, between Whilmohr Street & Lenox Road from, 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Dinner will be provided. Please share the enclosed flyer and directions to the church with your colleagues and encourage them to attend.

Pre-registration is required to prepare materials and to confirm the food order. To register, please contact Ron Derway at 800-692-8528, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. The registration deadline is February 22nd.

The Regional Planning Committee encourages you to join with the community in dialogue and learn what we can do to support older adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and to stop the spread of HIV. Please contact Carol Tyrell, Coordinator of the Faith Communities Project, at 518-473-2300, if you have any questions about the Project

Friday, February 26th,
FREE Youth Safer Sex Party – for Youth ages 15-24 years old
2010-02-26 6:00Pm-11:00pm
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY
Keep the Cold out and the HEAT in!
The HEAT Program, in conjunction with the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) & FACES is sponsoring a Safer Sex Party for all youth ages 15-24 on Friday, February 26, 2010 from 6-11 pm at
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street
Brooklyn ( bet Thompkins & Brooklyn Aves)

FREE and open to all youth
Free Food, DJ & Giveaways
Safer Sex Awarness and Resources
Free HIV rapid Testing Available

Direction: #C Train to Kingston & Throop Aves
Bus: B25 or B44 to Fulton and Thompkins Ave

Sunday, February 28th
Brother *2* Brother – Domestic Violence & HIV/AIDS in the Brotherhood, Canticles Lounge, 207 Lewis Avenue, (Corner of Lewis & Lexington), Brooklyn 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Males Only age 15 and over. Free HIV testing, refreshments provided. For more information contact Rev. Dr. Waterman (347)332-9027, Rev. Dr. Whitney (718) 622-0557, or Rev. John (718)771-8061

Events in Manhattan

Friday, February 19th
Join the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) at its’ General Quarterly Meeting featuring a panel discussion on
The Role of Media in HIV Prevention for Young Women of Color
Friday, February 19th, 10:00am-2:00pm
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd Street, Penthouse
Btwn. 9th & 10th Avenues
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
To register go to

Directions to 434 West 33rd Street by Subway:
The closest trains are the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, to 34th Street

Saturday, February 20th
The Road Less Traveled,
Second Providence Baptist Church, 11-13 West 116th Street, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Continental Breakfast and Lunch. Testing will be provided.. RSVP by contacting: Rev Wilson – , Rev. Leudo – , or Rev. Kennedy –

Dr. King, Coretta Scott King and the continued fight for justice

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Monday, Jan. 18th marked the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15th) and a national day of service. Many of you have heeded President Obama’s call to service without reservation.

As we celebrate, honor and reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Black AIDS Institute asks, What Would Martin Do? In an article written by Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, he states “Dr. King would be leading a movement against the war and for creating jobs, passing meaningful health-care legislation, educating our young and protecting our environment. And yes, just as he stood up for the sanitation workers, Dr. King would be passionate about HIV/AIDS. There is no question that ending the AIDS epidemic would be at the top of his agenda. And because it would be at the top of his agenda, it would be at the top of our agenda.”

Phill Wilson believes, as well as I, that Dr. King would have been a significant leader in the struggle to end AIDS.  And though, Dr. King was not able to contribute to this movement, his wife was a strong advocate of the AIDS community.

In a speech she gave at the Metropolitan Community Foundation’s Circles Of Hope Dinner in 2002, she says “As my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny,” … “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Later, she states, “To eradicate AIDS, we must give our medical researchers and scientists all of the support they need to find the cure. But we must first and foremost cure our own hearts of the fear and ignorance that leads to ostracism of people with HIV and AIDS.”

Mrs. King was a vocal opponent against injustice. She was heard speaking out against capital punishment and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  She also supported lesbian and gay rights and as demonstrated above, an ardent supporter of HIV and AIDS education and prevention. 

We are still struggling with many of the issues that Mrs. and Dr. King attempted to address. And we must continue to defend and protect human rights, especially as it relates to the fight for decent housing, equal job opportunities, education and healthcare. We, as a community of world citizens, must also fight against homelessness, poverty, hunger and the spread of AIDS.

His legacy as well as Mrs. King will live on with our continued effort to fight against injustice and stand for the rights of all!

Tiger Woods and the Spread of AIDS

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not suggesting that Tiger Woods is spreading AIDS or that he has AIDS but his sexual behavior should be a HUGE warning sign, red flag or bull horn to any person who is not practicing safe sex. Specifically, since it’s being alleged in the media, that not only has he had sex with 8 or possible more women, he also did not use condoms. That is not only a problem for his wife but for him and all the other women he has slept with.

Every time I screen the trailer to my film (one minute clip is on the homepage) or talk to a group or even just one person about AIDS and safe sex, I get a blank look. Everyone thinks, “I’m not that person, it could never happen to me.” “I know my partner.” “I would know if they were cheating.” “I would know if they were having an affair.” “I don’t need to wear a condom, I’m married or I got a steady partner!” I’m sure that’s what Mrs. Wood thought and the countless partners of other famous and everyday people in relationships. Not only are more and more people having sex outside their primary relationship, they are also having it with multiple people of both sexes. And most are not practicing safe sex. Therefore, they risk getting infected and infecting others.

Its a new era. We have to get real about the fact that the sex and sexuality of today is different from that of previous generations. This is not the free love of the 60’s and 70’s. Not only is the sex different, sexually transmitted diseases are different. Remember, HIV wasn’t formally recognized until 1981.  Fast forward twenty plus years, and as of January 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported increased rates of the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and syphilis in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in the United States more than 13 million people are infected each year and more than 65 million have an incurable STD. Incidence of genital herpes in the United States has increased 30% over the past 20 years. Individuals who are infected with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact. In addition, if an HIV-infected individual is also infected with another STD, that person is more likely to transmit HIV through sexual contact than other HIV-infected persons.

So, what do we do now! Well, HIV testing is key in awareness, prevention and if necessary treatment. Communication is also key, even as difficult and uncomfortable as it might be. Talking to your partner could possible be the best way to save your life. But, its also important to talk to your healthcare professional, a relative, a friend or anyone you trust to help you flush out some feelings, concerns or questions you may have. Honesty is also vital, if we can’t talk honestly about sex and our sexuality then we can’t address issues and concerns that one might have. Information has to be a basic part of our learning and development as people. We are in an age were information is so easily accesseable. Its not that difficult to go on line and learn about AIDS and STDs or get a pamphlet or other materials that can be shared with members of your community. And lastly, Self-respect is crucial. Developing the skills to put yourself and your health first is very necessary. When we are better able to care for ourselves, then we become a better mother, father, partner, lover and friend. When we can determine and assert what is best for ourselves then we are less likely to be taken advantage of. We can express what we like, what we don’t like and what we will stand and not stand for. If more of us are able to become self assured, thoughtful and centered individuals then hopefully there will be less stories like this.

Women are still dying from AIDS

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Women with AIDS are dying faster than any other group in New York City. With NYC making 10% of the American women with AIDS, a whopping 60% of them are from the Bronx and Brooklyn. In an article written by Chris Norwood of the Bronx organization, Health People, she noted that the re-distribution of Ryan White funds to Manhattan based hospitals, agencies and organizations have hurt the services offered to the poorest and mostly minority AIDS population in the Bronx and Brooklyn. What makes this re-distribution suspect is that the AIDS organizations that received the majority of the funding serve a mostly white, middle class and gay male population. In the article, “Women with AIDS in NYC: Killing Them Softy”, she notes that, “Taking away the money and services that belong to women with AIDS was all the easier because they are powerless. The “social service” industry centered in Manhattan, although it promotes itself as a “protector” of the poor, hardly protested shifts that benefited its coffers any more than influential Manhattan AIDS organizations protested.” So, what happens to these women, who by large have children and are single. Well, with the lack of support services needed to manage their illness and to assist their families, they die.

Few of the pioneers that fought for these services are still around, women need to not only struggle to keep from being infected but they now must fight to protect the very services designed to help them survive. As we move into the 2nd week of World AIDS Day events, please keep these women in mind. Support them, donate to the organizations that assist them and volunteer to community groups that need foot soldiers in ending the spread of this disease.

The following are additional World AIDS Day Events, attend one if you haven’t already.

Thursday, December 10th

    • “Free HIV Testing”, at The Church of the Open Door, 201 Gold Street, Thursday, December 10th, light snacks available. Hosted by The AIDS Ministry of The Church of the Open Door. For more information call 718-512-5450

Saturday, December 12th

    • “It’s All About Men Again!” A Men’s Health Fair for World’s AIDS Day”, at Antioch Baptist Church, 828 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday, Dec 12th, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free health screenings: Blood pressure, Diabetes, Cholesterol; Free Breakfast and lunch; Free or low cost Insurance information; Theatrical performances by CAMBA & THEO; Workshops on Men’s Health Issues; Free Flu Shot; Free HIV counseling and testing. For more information contact Sharon Miller at 347-332-9027 or call 917-972-9510

Thursday, December 17th

  • “Love Me Through It”,at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 279 Lafayette Avenue @ St. James Place, Brooklyn, Thursday, December   17th, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. A movie and dinner on us! A docu-drama that dramatizes a woman’s journey living with HIV and how the faith community responds. For more information contact Healing Touch HIV Ministry or Emmanuel Baptist Church, 718-622-1107 ext 56.