On March 31 to April 3, 2011 over forty gay men who are civil society leaders, advocates, researchers and policymakers from North America and the Caribbean met in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for the Black Gay Men’s Summit.
The Summit (also referred to as an MSM consultation) was convened by the Black AIDS Institute to bring together black gay men for an intensive results-oriented weekend which is designed to develop a clear, consensus-based agenda for optimizing the potential of recent opportunities and threats Black Gay men and other men who have sex with men are facing.
The consultation was based on the premise of the significant advances in the global response to HIV and AIDS over the last 30 years and the challenges faced by black gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Advances include new HIV antibodies that provide the building blocks for developing a vaccine against HIV/AIDS, development of microbicide and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Additionally, surveillance systems are better than ever and we have a better handle on how large and where the various epidemics are around the globe.
The consultation covered five (broad) thematic areas through a combination of facilitated interactive working sessions, workshops and presentations which were led by presenters who are experts in their field with a history of working with black gay men. The themes were:
1. Building and strengthening a supportive network of MSM across the African and Caribbean Diaspora
2. Interpreting, responding to, and engaging Black MSM in recent advances in biomedical interventions for our communities and ourselves.
3. Expanding the role of Black MSM in the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C.
4. Confronting stigma and discrimination that undermine HIV prevention and treatment.
5. Health, wellness and self-care
Presenters included Colin Robinson, from the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) in Trinidad & Tobago, Phil Wilson, Black AIDS Institute (BAI) in the USA, Ahmed Lee, Black Gay Men’s Network, Dr. David Malebranche, Emory University (School of Medicine), among others.
Overall, the consultation was a very noble effort and presents a very unique opportunity for us as black gay and bisexual men and other MSM in North America and the Caribbean to strategize and increase our visibility at the upcoming AIDS Conference in Washington DC in 2012. This is also important to strengthen the global networks to make greater demands of policymakers and funders with respect to the global response to HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with men and in particular persons across the African diaspora.