We’re here for the whole of our lives and experiences as Black Gay men, as complex and multi-layered as we all know these to be. From the very first discussion about what BlackOutUK was to be, we recognised that most conversations about Black gay men focused only on our sexual health needs and the prevention of HIV transmission. While limited in scope regarding who we are as Black gay men we feel these narratives and related work remain crucially important.
We sought to stay in our lane so to speak and in doing so we recognised organisations and government bodies who are better placed to act and who have a direct responsibility to address the sexual health needs of all men who have sex with men, and particularly those of Black gay men who as a group are disproportionality affected by HIV and who yet tend to be underrepresented in the HIV and sexual health sector.
Sex is a major part of our experience as Black gay men and BlackOut UK is visibly and vocally committed to Black gay men’s pleasure and pride, as well as to us having the tools and information to make informed choices to achieve good sexual health.
Marc Thompson, co-editor at BlackOutUK, has been doing some inspiring work as a leading light in the Prepster.info and iwantprepnow.co.uk/ team. We recognise the need for a conversation about PrEP, the pill that can prevent HIV, and also what access and availability of PrEP means for Black gay men.
If you don’t know the stats – Black gay men are disproportionality affected by HIV. This means in the UK we are twice as likely to be diagnosed HIV+ than white gay men. Globally this figure rises to 15 times more likely than our white counterparts.
Indeed wherever you go, Black gay, bi, queer and same-gender-loving men carry the burden of the HIV epidemic.
We have been less likely to engage with clinical trials in the past. The PROUD Study measured the effectiveness of PrEP on 500 participants but only 4% of those who participated identified as Black or Asian. This study and other research indicates Black gay men possess lower levels of knowledge about PrEP and how to access it. And if we do know about it and how to get it, to buy it online for example, at around £40 is for some of us simply unaffordable.
BlackOut UK wants you to know about the upcoming Impact Trial that will make available free PrEP for three years for up to 10,000 people who fit the criteria and among this group at least 1000 Black gay men. http://prepster.info/impact/
Black gay men’s sex lives are much more than a NHS statistic or risk category. We deserve to make choices for free, healthy, fulfilling sex lives. There are educational and medical tools that may help some make this a reality. We want PrEP. . . Now