NAESM INC’s very own MSM Engagement Coordinator, Marxavian Jones was presented with the opportunity to attend the African American HIV University presented at University of California Los Angeles. Here is a blog of his experience thus far.
August 24, 2015
The Black AIDS Institute has presented me with the opportunity to attend the African American HIV University presented at University of California Los Angeles. Thus far, this experience has been quite compelling. I have been presented with an array of information and have engaged in conversations around the complexities that plague the African American society.
Many of the lectures have presented intricate details illustrating the complexities of the HIV life cycle and the fundamental understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological science of HIV. We have reviewed statistics, both nationally and internationally, to solidify the grim fact that HIV is still running rampant, primarily in black communities. Even though we have made tremendous strides in the advancements of HIV technology and are progressively moving towards innovative means of prevention and even a cure, it is evident that there is still a great amount of work that must take place to counteract this epidemic.
In the biomedical world, there have been technological advancements in the fight against HIV. It is proven that Treatment as Prevention (TasP), Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PreP), and male circumcision are the fore-runners for reducing the likelihood of transmission, within the MSM population specifically. Even though these tools are powerful weapons against HIV, it is still recommended that consistent and correct condom usage be promoted. The realization is, some people prefer condoms, and some don’t. Those who are conditioned to condom usage should continue to utilize them. Those who do not consistently use condoms still deserve to have a menu of options to help keep them infection-free. Scrutinizing people for their preferences causes stigma, which is one of the leading reasons why people aren’t comfortable to talk freely about sex and HIV. Change starts with the conversation.
There are many contributing conditions, or syndemics, that increase the likelihood of someone encountering HIV. Complexities such as poverty, lack of education, discrimination, partner-abuse, and mental health all play a role in an individual contracting the virus. We need to begin the conversations to address such concerns and be willing to help our brothers and sisters in need. Instead of turning our backs on the realities taking place right in our own backyards we as black men and women need to pull together and present our own answers to our problems. We must advocate for equal opportunities, stand against discrimination, combat poverty, end stigma, re-instill the importance of education, and prove why black lives matter! If we fail to bind together as a community to combat the social injustices and inequalities that plague us, the fight against the spread of HIV is definitely going to be an uphill battle.
Marxavian, we are proud of you and keep on learning! We can’t wait to hear more on your experience!
For more information on AAHU (African American HIV University presented at University of California Los Angeles), click the link below!