We Are Orlando

On behalf of NAESM, Inc.’s Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and supporters, we want to express our most sincere and deepest sympathies over the tragic loss of life suffered and to the countless others who have been affected by the senseless act of violence that took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Often times we struggle with explaining and understanding why this level of hate exists, not only in America but across the world as well. As we struggle to put into context why actions like these happen I am encouraged by the solidarity shown amongst all gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, same gender loving individuals, and allies regardless of race.

To merely say our thoughts are with our neighbors in the South, is an understatement as it doesn’t begin to perpetuate the heartache, sadness and anger that we share with them. Too frequently in history individuals are targeted for their race, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. Now is the time more than ever for us not only to continue the fight for equality for all LGBTQ+ identified persons but to push further to ensure we achieve the highest level of equity as well.

No act of hate will detour us from coming together as a community, strong and persevering! Pride and unity are more important now than ever to silence the voices of hate we have seen over the past couple of days. As we stand tall for those across the country that are hurting more now than ever I encourage everyone to put their differences aside to be the village for the community. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in moments of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please join us in standing tall. ‪#‎WEAREPULSE‬ ‪#‎WEAREORLANDO‬ ‪#‎WEARENAESM‬

Darwin Thompson
Executive Director

The first AIDS Report

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the first AIDS report in the United States. While as a nation we have overcome so much and made many strides during this time. However, as we see continue to see the emergence of such damaging statistics like 1 in 2 Black Gay men will contract HIV in their lifetime now is not the time to be discouraged in this fight or throw in the towel. Today we celebrate the resilience of all the individuals regardless of their sexuality who have been infected or affected by this virus and chose to not let this epidemic define who they were. Today we celebrate the activists who have work so tirelessly to educate the community about this virus when they didn’t completely understand the damaging effects this virus would have on communities especially communities of color. As the Executive Director of NAESM, Inc. I have the upmost faith that we currently have the right people in place, the right leadership, and the right tools to ensure this epidemic doesn’t last another 35 years. So I challenge you today to not stigmatize a person who has contracted this virus but to ask yourself am I doing enough to make sure no one else has to ever worry about contracting this virus. Today I stand in solidarity with all the long term survivors and pledging to each of you I will do my part to help end this epidemic!

Darwin Thompson
Executive Director

NSPIRE – A NAESM Initiative!


Atlanta, Georgia, April 6, 2016 – NAESM’s Department of Prevention and Support Services would like to announce NSPIRE, an all-new program to help aid newly diagnosed, HIV positive young men who have sex with men (YMSM). NSPIRE (Necessary Support to Prevent, Intervene, Reduce and Eliminate HIV-related Health Inequities) is one of NAESM’s responses to the HIV lifetime risk data that was released at CROI 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if current HIV diagnoses rates continue, about 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. For NAESM’s Executive Director, Darwin Thompson, this served as a wakeup call but also an opportunity to redesign and implement targeted HIV prevention programs to ensure NAESM is during our part to help reduce lifetime risk.

“1 in 2 black men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime is disheartening but is absolutely preventable. We currently have viable options to help prevent infections which include effective strategies like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Treatment as Prevention (TasP). To support those strategies in the fight against new infections we have structured a program for young men who have sex with men to make sure they’re making healthier and more informed decisions in response to the lifetime HIV risk data presented by the CDC. In addition to this program, as an organization we must continue to have a concentrated focus on YMSM 18-24 years old as they remain the face of the HIV epidemic.” expressed Thompson.

NSPIRE is intended to: assess, acknowledge, and address systematic, structural, personal (emotional, spiritual, physical, familial, mental and/or literacy) and social factors that serve and or may serve as barriers to viral suppression. NSPIRE will stand true to its mission, to connect newly diagnosed HIV positive YMSM between 18-24 years of age with supportive mentors to help them on their road to viral suppression. While the core of this program will focus on viral suppression, mentors will be tasked with working with their mentees to address and achieve other life goals as well.

The mission of NAESM is to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by black gay men through advocacy, services, and education. NAESM, Inc. was created in an effort to counteract the ever increasing spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color with a focus on black gay men. NSPIRE was made possible by generous support from Janssen Therapeutics and the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund.


If you have any questions about NSPIRE or are interested in becoming a mentor,

feel free to contact Damon Johnson at (404) 691-8880 [ext. 46] or by email at damonj@naesm.org.



Job Opportunity – Mental Health Counselor

Atlanta, GA, March 8, 2015 – NAESM is proud to announce the opening of the Mental Health Counselor position. We will be looking for the individual to start as soon as possible. If you meet the qualifications, we encourage you to submit a résumé with a letter of interest. Applications are kept on file for six months. After this time has lapsed, applicants will have to reapply. Salaries are competitive. NAESM is an Equal Opportunity Employer. PLWA are encouraged to apply.

NAESM is a financially solvent service organization with a supportive leadership structure and diverse board of directors that builds a community of Black gay men to eliminate HIV and other health conditions that disproportionately affect our community. NAESM fosters a climate of trust, integrity, and respect that encourages the provision of quality services. NAESM’s goal is to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by black gay men through advocacy, services, and education.

As one of the leading organizations facing these issues head on in the metro Atlanta area, we are transforming and expanding our services to the community at large. These positions can be applied for directly through our site at http://naesm.org/about-us/careers/.
If you have any questions about the openings, feel free to contact Darwin Thompson at (404) 691-8880 or by email at info@naesm.org.

East Coast vs. West Coast: The Saga Continues!

East Coast vs. West Coast: The Saga Continues!

NAESMLA2016 (684)Rewind to October 5, 2015 as I sit in Orientation; my first official day as a member of the swiftly growing NAESM staff. Imagine how it felt to hear that in a few months I would be traveling to Los Angeles, California to take part in the agency’s 13th installment of their National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities. I squealed in excitement at the potential performer (*cough cough) and the thought of traveling to LA. The furthest West I had previously been was Texas. I was forewarned of all of the hard work that would entail hosting the conference. However, I was up for the challenge and without hesitation signed up to be a part of the “Experience Committee”.

Fast forward to January, balancing my daily duties (Housing never sleeps!) and finalizing conference planning required a little organization but I was still hanging in there. My excitement, ever increasing as I started building my playlist for the trip there; songs included “California” by Colonel Loud, “Hotel California” by Eagles and “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Tony Toni Tone. The staff meeting updates and Condom Packing Parties quelled the anxieties of the impending trip. Although I knew I most likely knew I wouldn’t get the opportunity to attend the great line up of plenaries and sessions, I saw a vast opportunity. An opportunity to coalesce with my peers; diverse, highly educated, subject matter experts on issues plaguing our people, their subcultures.

When I hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my coral blazer I knew we had T-minus 12 hours before showtime! The moment when “the experience” for the participants wafted into the halls of the Hilton LAX, myself and 13 other staff members welcoming and eager to assist. My thirteen plus hour days generally consisted of me assisting with registering participants, adding to the aesthetics of our Exhibit Hall and Receptions, escorting people through the winding corridors of the hotel to their desired destinations, “monitoring” the crowds and ushering people into the larger events and assisting with transforming smaller spaces for the next event. It was in those same hours that I got to meet majority of NAESM’s Board members; special shout out to the very amicable and REAL, Mr. Bates (he’s going to kill me for calling him that) who was also honored during the Black Gay Legend’s Ball for his countless contributions to the field of public health.

I witnessed the vibrancy that is the Ballroom scene, where Legendary Houses competed alongside the likes of “virgins” Byron Keaton, who gave us some nasty shoulder work and received 10s across the board to take home a cash prize and trophy. I also honed in on my anchoring skills during our recorded interviews with attendees, led by the talented Rameses Frederick of Urban Socialites, who took me from Kardashian to Couric (with a little work and many takes). Most importantly, during these hours those staff members transitioned into my family.

Being behind the scenes of the 2016 Conference was easier than it seemed but harder than it looked. I owe eight years of prior experience, a specialization in Community Planning and working in a man’s world with helping me get through the days that ensued unscathed; or at the very minimum, with unchipped polish, hair laid and decent make up skills to hide the circles under my eyes. Whilst, I was tasked with ensuring the participants got what they paid for, an unforgettable experience. Wonderfully sacred memories captured by the provided selfie sticks and engrained into spaces contained within their heads and onto their social media pages. Supplementary to the memories, conducive movements capitulated by an idea that sparked revolution. In exchange, I was afforded the opportunity to Live in the experience that the “City of Angels” blessed me with, Be amongst multigenerational leaders and Own my place in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other health disparities.

THANK YOU for bringing your passion, knowledge and artillery to Los Angeles! We look forward to seeing you in Dallas… 😀
#NAESM2016 #liveit #beit #ownit #goodtogreat



What do you know about PrEP? Step up and speak out and you might just receive $100. In a 15-second video, give us your: name, occupation and why you support PrEP.

If chosen, your video could be featured on our various social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo)! All videos must be sent to info@naesm.org.

Have fun and be creative with it! ‪#‎SpkUp4PrEP‬