Following several months of strategic planning, an interdisciplinary group of professional black gay men formed the nation’s first health policy coalition to address the rising incidence infections occuring among black gay men. Known as The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC), the Coalition will address HIV/AIDS and other health disparities.
"The 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. It’s our time to take control of our lives; If not us, who will?" according to Rudy Carn, the newly elected Coalition Chair.
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 known to be HIV positive in five cities. The cities were Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. According to Cornelius Baker, a long time leader and advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Coalition will be central to the development of effective HIV/AIDS strategies for black gay men in the future "We cannot stand by and watch as the HIV, syphilis, crystal methamphetamine and other dangers take hold in the lives of black, gay men. The coalition must do everything to shift the priorities of our nation’s public health officials and community leaders to act because the lives of black, gay men matter. Silence is not an option."
Health policy that affects the lives of Black Gay Men will be principle among the Coalition’s concerns. According to Earnest Hopkins, chair of the Coalitions policy committee “I am excited that we have created the Coalition. It provides a unique opportunity for Black gay men to educate and advocate to Congress and the Administration about the long, neglected HIV health needs of our community. Black gay men are in crisis and the status quo is unacceptable.”
The inaugural slate of officers also includes Earnest Hopkins, as Vice-chair, Dr. Mark Colomb as secretary and Earl Fowlkes as treasurer. The Coalition has conducted numerous strategic consultations to work in collaboration with key government agencies and established advocacy bodies. Primary among them, was a meeting in November 2005 with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors where discussion of creating a national coalition was crystallized.
Communtiy based orgainzations serving black gay men have played a pitvotal role in the organizaion’s formation. People of Color in Crisis, Inc. Brooklyn, New York.The Coalition formalized its focus at a Strategic Planning Retreat in colloaboraiton with the New York State Community Trust Foundation in January
The Coalition’s membership is comprised of human service care providers with expertise in public policy, government affairs, health care administration, prevention, care and treatment, research, community mobilization and an array of other disciplines. The Coalition’s founding members represents major cities and rural communities where HIV/AIDS has most disproportionately affected African Americans.
For more information, please visit www.nbgmac.org.