NAESM, Inc., founded in 1990 by Mr. Rudolph H. Carn and the late Madam Edna Brown and Mae Gratis Reed, exists to address health disparities experienced by African American people particularly the overwhelming number of health issues that affect the lives and well-being of Black Gay Men. In the more than 25 years since the organization has been operating, NAESM has been a leader in helping to highlight disparities in HIV testing, treatment, and access to care among minority communities both locally in the State of Georgia and throughout the United States. Like so many other grassroots organizations based in urban communities, NAESM was birthed by three individuals who saw a need to respond to the number of friends, neighbors, and partners who were rapidly becoming infected, and shortly expiring as a result of HIV complications. These founders reacted to form an organization based on the human principle love. The organization’s motto, “We Love You, Love Yourself, Be Healthy” characterizes the ways that NAESM has addressed HIV/AIDS by providing community health services to African American communities in the Metro Atlanta area.
In the early years, NAESM’s response to HIV mainly involved reaching out to communities of color through education sessions, group meetings, and “buddy” networks which served to support Black gay men in their process of fighting stigma, discrimination, and misinformation associated with HIV acquisition. In the ensuing years, as the medical technology became available, NAESM became the leading organization with the ability to successfully conduct targeted HIV testing in disenfranchised and impoverished communities where African Americans reside and work. Subsequently, NAESM became recognized as a leading national organization that served Black gay men throughout the United States with community mobilization projects, health education sessions, public health campaigns, and HIV testing and linkage to care services. Since then the organization has, in various ways, continued to identify cutting-edge opportunities to conduct HIV Prevention activities with a focus on reducing new HIV infections and assuring that those individuals living with HIV have quick, affordable, and culturally sensitive medical care. This approach is reflected not only in the incredible partnerships the organization has developed throughout the years, but also in the ways that Black gay communities have come to need and depend on NAESM’s culturally competent method in performing HIV testing in the Atlanta community.