David discusses the importance of PrEP medication for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and its impact within the black gay community
The Black Gay community has been disproportionately hit with HIV/AIDS within the last 20 years. The numbers show an uptick in newly diagnosed cases within young black gay men. We have been pushing condom use as being the only form of prevention next to abstinence. As of 2013, we have a new and innovative prevention tool that has changed the way we look at HIV prevention. PrEP is an HIV medication that is used to prevent HIV for those who are negative. You take this pill everyday at the same time, similar to a birth control pill. Studies have shown that individuals who are on PrEP and taking it as directed are 98% protected against contracting HIV.
Now that this prevention tool is available to the public, why is it that the young black gay community is still an increasing population of newly diagnosed and infected in the US? Why is it that this community knows the least about this prevention tool? It is known and seen that most of the marketing and promotion for PrEP has been spent within our counterpart – the white gay community.This confuses me. Now let me take a step back. The cost of any HIV medication is astronomical, and the only way you can afford the drug is if you have insurance. African Americans as a whole lack health insurance in comparison to our white counterparts – this is something that we have to take care of first. The Affordable Care Act nationwide and Medicare expansion within most states has made the process of receiving health care much simpler. We need to make sure that everyone has access to healthcare, first and foremost. Once we overcome that hurdle then the doors of the healthcare system are open to us.
The Black Gay Community
Where is the advertisement in the black gay community – the bars, clubs, gathering spots, etc. Our gatekeepers for the most part have failed us and the community. We shouldn’t wait for the marketing dollars and the flyers to come before we talk about PrEP. Those who know about PrEP should be shouting at the top of our lungs to anyone and everyone in sight. We have settled for long enough, waiting for others to come and tell us information that we should be providing for ourselves. We need to tell our own community about PrEP because this virus has been killing those in our community for long enough and it’s time for us to educate our own about a tool that can keep us alive. Money has been allocated to promote and market PrEP to the general public, and some of that money was for specific high risk demographics (gay men, discordant couples, and injection drug users). If no money has been allocated for the black gay community in particular, we need to get the word out by any means necessary.
Now that we know about PrEP, we need to access this service. If you have a primary doctor, talk to them about getting on PrEP. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, cities around the nation have PrEP clinics where you can get linked with a physician that can not only prescribe PrEP and follow you through it, but they will become your personal primary care doctor that will cake care of all your health needs.
Access to PrEP services and resources is crucial for the black gay community. What is even more important is that we educate ourselves on all of the programs and services available to us, and take care of our needs as individuals and as a community.