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Volume 34
Issue 35
 
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National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition begins membership drive
National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition begins membership drive
San Francisco AIDS Foundation makes $10,000 contribution to support effort

The National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition has launched a nationwide membership drive. Over the next four months, the coalition will be working to establish a nationwide network of individuals, community groups, scientist and health officials who are committed to addressing the exceptionally high rate of HIV infection among black Gay men.

"We want to work with everyone who believes the lives of black Gay men matter. We are especially committed to building a strong network of black Gay men across this country who are advocates for their own lives," stated Rudy Carn, the coalition's chairman, in announcing the membership drive. Carn is the executive director of National AIDS Education and Services for Minorities, Inc. based in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Coalition reports that the catalyst for their formation was data released in June 2005, by the CDC reporting that 46% of black Gay men were found to be HIV positive in five cities. The cities were Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. Other studies have confirmed rates of HIV infection among black Gay men in the U.S. that are among the highest of any population in the world.

"The advocacy necessary to reverse the startling trends of HIV in black Gay men takes resources and because we have seen so much devastation here in San Francisco, the AIDS Foundation wanted to be among the first to join this effort," stated Ernest Hopkins, the director of federal affairs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the coalition's policy committee chair. The AIDS Foundation joined the coalition with a $10,000 contribution.

According to Cornelius Baker, a long time leader and advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the coalition's national policy advisor, "If we are to be successful it will take all of us working together, not apart. Those in community, government and the healthcare sectors must begin to coalesce and work together or HIV will become a permanent stain in our nation. Our community cannot afford to be silent and our nation cannot afford to fail this effort."

The coalition has established a sliding scale for memberships from individuals, community based organizations and state and local health departments. In the coming weeks, the coalition will also be initiating partnerships with the corporate and foundation community to sustain its efforts. The coalition will not accept federal grants or contracts. Information on membership in the coalition is available at www.nbgmac.org.

Earlier this summer, the coalition moved into space donated by Us Helping Us, an organization dedicated to addressing HIV among black, Gay men headquartered in Washington, DC.

The National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition is committed to improving the health and well-being of Black Gay Men through advocacy that is focused on research, policy, education and training.

A NBGMAC press release

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