His Health - Reducing the Risk of HIV for Black Men who have sex with Men

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Black and African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more affected by HIV than any other group in the United States. In fact, in 2016 African American gay and bisexual men accounted for 26% (10,223) of the 39,782 new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Stigma, discrimination, and homophobia make the prevention of new HIV infections very difficult among black MSM.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) partnered with the Health Resources and Service’s Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau to do something about the high rates of infection among black MSM. BLKHLTH interviewed Terrance Moore, Deputy Executive Director at NASTAD, to learn more about HIV in black men and the interactive online community, His Health.

Image from Hishealth.org

Image from Hishealth.org

 What is the purpose of HisHealth.org? 

HisHealth.org was created with one key mission, to raise the standard of health care for Black gay men. Through this work, we know we can also reduce the risk of HIV by improving communication with health care providers, which includes conducting continuing education trainings, so healthcare providers can implement patient-centered strategies and improve the standard of care for Black gay men across the nation. 

How does racial bias impact HIV outcomes for African American gay men and MSM? 

Most gay Black men see healthcare providers that don’t identify with them, often their physicians are neither Black, nor gay and that lack of identification with one’s patient creates a barrier to good healthcare. Stigma, discrimination and medical mistrust create even more difficult barriers resulting in poorer medical care and fewer of us seeking health care. For these reasons and many more, His Health is committed raising the standard of health care for Black gay men by giving healthcare providers valuable tools that will help break these barriers down and create a more trusting relationship with their patients. 

What is PrEP and why should more people know about it?  

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is daily pill available to anyone who is HIV-negative and at risk of contracting HIV from sexual activities or among people who inject drugs. If taken properly PrEP could dramatically decrease new HIV infections by up to 90 percent. Our team focuses on PrEP financing by providing information on Medicaid, insurance coverage, and other public health financing so that cost and accessibility is the last thing our community has to worry about. One of our first continuing education trainings focused on PrEP and just this month we released PrEP 2.0, a more comprehensive iteration to follow up with the first.

What information can you give us about your new models? 

Our previous models for Whole Health Assessment, PrEP, Linkage and Engagement, and Transgender Health were very successful, so we are excited about this month’s launch of our new online trainings; Whole Health Assessment and PrEP 2.0. Taking into account all that we learned and accomplished with previous versions, these programs allowed the services and scope of education to expand and continue to improve.  

Dr. Theo Hodge, creator of the PrEP curriculum for His Health also added, “Know your patient population and the statistics of lifetime risk for HIV in your area. Testing is paramount. The CDC wrote in 2006 that all should have at least one HIV test regardless of risk. A sexual history should be obtained on all patients to determine if risk necessitates continued testing. All those who test positive should be treated as directed by a governing board such as the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and those who test negative and who continually engage in high risk activity should be placed on PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as well as educated on the use of other preventative measures to include the use of condoms.”

Please follow @NASTAD and @HisHealthStrong to stay up to date on all of their work in the coming year.