British HIV campaign urges blacks to accept gay men

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 20 2002 1:00 AM ET

A new campaign aimed at tackling homophobia in the United Kingdom's black communities and subsequently helping to reduce HIV infections is urging blacks throughout the nation to accept gay men, BBC News reports. The campaign, launched by the Terence Higgins Trust, the U.K.'s largest HIV/AIDS charity, warns that the long-term impact of persistent homophobia will be a worsening of the AIDS epidemic as more and more gay black men are forced to stay in the closet and engage in anonymous, often risky sexual encounters.

Simon Nelson, a staff member at the trust, says gay black men in the United Kingdom face explicit to subtle homophobia in all parts of their communities, particularly in black churches, that prevents them from accessing needed information about AIDS. Nelson said organizations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust struggle to educate many black men on ways to prevent HIV transmissions: Black men who engage in gay sex are often apprehensive about seeking safer-sex information, and men who may be infected are often afraid to seek help. "If we are going to deal with HIV and AIDS, then we have to talk about the routes of transmission," he said. "The sad thing is, nobody is talking about it. It's total denial."