Just as I return from Stockholm where I attended the first European conference “The Future of Prevention for MSM in Europe” (FEMP) specifically addressing prevention issues affecting men who have sex with other men (MSM), I am surprised, as much as you should be, that this was the first European conference of its kind since the outbreak of the epidemic 30 years ago.
The US and South Africa have been exemplary in leading the way with innovative approaches to HIV prevention, treatment and advocacy.
As a black gay man of African origin living in the United Kingdom, the challenges I face in my everyday life are in no way different from those faced by black gay, bisexual and other MSM in America.
However, whilst there is a history of over 200 years of black civil rights movement in America, there is little that can be said about similar black organisations in Europe.
But the problem has deeper roots. Most amazingly, the results of the recent HIV prevalence survey conducted by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) do not differentiate the HIV epidemic in Europe according to ethnic origin mostly because the French and the Germans do not allow for identifying and recording racial background.
The hypocrisy of the French “equality” motto is that by denying the existence of epidemiologic differences related to racial background it further oppresses ethnic minorities, mostly black, by denying them the rights to tailored healthcare.
In the UK the Health Protection Agency (HPA) estimates that 86,500 people are living with HIV in 2010.
An estimated 4% of Black Africans living in England have been diagnosed with HIV, compared with 0.1% of the white population. The disease disproportionately affects MSM who represents nearly half of those newly infected with a consistently higher proportion of black MSM.
The latest HIV diagnosis data for 2001-10 from the HPA shows a steady increase in the number of new diagnosis in the black MSM population (Black Caribbean, Black African and Black other) from 100 in 2000 to 112 in 2010.
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