In the introduction to “The Art of Perseverance,” Mr. Keyes shares the following:
As an individual who has persevered through issues of abuse, homelessness, and social stigma, it was my passion for education and community service that helped me become the leader I am today. Being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at an early age was once a setback for me. With perseverance, I realized that identifying as a Black gay and HIV-positive person of color is not a burden…I understand the importance and impact that my decisions have on the next generation and intend to make them legendary.
Research on the PROMISE intervention found that the sharing of such personal stories and risk-reduction messages by peer role models can be successful in influencing others to change their risk behaviors. CBE is disseminating the “The Art of Perseverance” through the organization’s website, social media channels, and mobile phone video messaging activities, as part of the organization’s observance of National Gay Men’s HIV AIDS Awareness Day . The goal is to reach 5,000 young men.
As CBE Director of Policy and Programs Michael Hinson noted, “The most important outcome for this activity is the message of inspiration for young people who read the story and see what’s possible even when adversity is right in front of them. If we are to truly have an AIDS-free generation, it will take leaders like D’Angelo D’Ontace Keyes and others to not only have a bold vision, but be willing to share it, lead by example and grab it by its horns and say, ‘I will persevere!’” [For the complete “Art of Perseverance” story, visit www.centerforblackequity.org or http://www.facebook.com/CBEINC .]
Other AAALI Partner Activities
Some other AAALI partners are also working to address HIV prevention, testing and linkage to care specifically among Black MSM. For example, Black Men’s Xchange (BMX) is also working to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention messages to its audiences through work with its seven chapters across the country. Serving same gender loving, gay-identifying, bisexual, and diverse males of African descent, BMX’s chapters conduct community forums, teach-ins, and family-unification projects as part of their efforts to raise awareness about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. In addition, another AAALI partner, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), organized a session on sexual health earlier this month as part of its Annual Legislative Conference, a national conference exploring key issues impacting the African-American community. Addressing HIV in the Black community and among Black MSM in particular were among the issues explored in this session. The session’s featured speakers included Emory University’s Dr. David Malebranche, a nationally recognized clinician-researcher with expertise in the clinical management of HIV and behavioral HIV prevention research with Black MSM United States.
Note: CDC supports a number of HIV awareness campaigns under Act Against AIDS. Two of them – Testing Makes Us Stronger and Reasons/Razones are specifically tailored to reach Black and Latino gay, bisexual and other MSM.