Gay, black and HIV positive: America’s hidden epidemic

Its is Mecca,
It’s Wakanda It is a refuge. If you live in the south
and you happen to be black and gay This is as free a city
as you’re going to find. I think it’s the greatest place on earth. When I moved here I was like,
‘Oh, thank God, yes.’ I’ll have a new clean slate,
I’m able to reinvent myself, I’m able to be comfortable
in my own skin. You have all these black gay men
rushing to Atlanta and Atlanta is not the land of milk and honey
they thought it was going to be. Who thinks that they’re going to be diagnosed
with an illness that could possibly kill you? That you may not see 30
or you may not see 40. White America believes that this is over. You actually hear people say,
‘the height of the epidemic.’ There is no way that 1989
was the fucking height. We’re not just going to sit back and watch our brothers die. We’re going to do something about it. If you’re a gay black man
in America today your risk of contracting HIV
is one in two. I’ve come to Atlanta, Georgia.
Long seen as a mecca for gay black men, thousands move here each year from
across the country to start a new life. Alright so y’all,
I’m gonna do a little dance for y’all. It’s a little j-sette… This is 25-year-old Daryon who moved to Atlanta
from Huntsville, Alabama, in 2014. I came out in seventh grade in middle school.
I had a crush on this guy. And someone told him I had a crush on him.
So he went back and told his mum who told the principal,
who told my parents. And he pulled me into the principle’s office
and was like, ‘We don’t accept that going on in our school.’ My stepdad, he’s from that hood,
urban side of town. He was like ‘If I hear one more thing
about you being gay I’ll ship you back to your dad.
– How old were you when that happened? I want to say 13 or 14. At the age of 21, Daryon left the conservative
city for Atlanta where he could live freely as a gay man. Are you different now than the Daryon
that lived in Alabama? Yes, I was very shy.
Growing up, I was antisocial. I was very skinny like a twig.
When I moved here I started working out more just to build my muscle up.
Started getting tattoos everywhere. I feel like when I said I was gonna revamp
myself I really revamped myself. So I like the new me. After three years in the city
he contracted HIV. I was feeling very sick. So I remember
leaving work, I went to the doctor’s office. They said, ‘okay, you have gonorrhoea
and acute HIV.’ I was so shocked. I would just break down crying.
It was like Daryon, how did you get yourself to this point
where you contracted HIV? So had you been using condoms
consistently before this happened? A few times, like two or three times,
I would slip up and not use them. But I would get tested on a regular basis.
I would get tested between three to six months and every time I got tested it was negative
so I wasn’t really worried about it. Like many young people
Daryon was careless with condoms two or three times. But unlike most young people,
his risk of HIV was so high because of who he is
and where he is. I’ve come to meet Tori Cooper,
an HIV prevention specialist on the frontline of the epidemic in Atlanta. Some people like black condoms,
some people like non-latex condoms, some people like insertive condoms,
some people like the larger condoms. A personal favourite – have you ever seen
this before? – I have not. This is a condom – I want you to
open it. We’ll open one together. This is great because it goes inside
of the receptive partner. And I always tell people:
if your partner is bigger around than that then you probably should not date him. How much more at risk
of contracting HIV are you as a black gay man than
as a white gay man? So a black gay man in the south,
his chances of getting HIV are about one out of two. For white gay men it’s closer to about one
out of 11. So that’s really a startling statistic. Sometimes because of their skin colour
they have access to things black gay men don’t generally. I’m generalising here. And sometimes that includes access
to stuff like PrEP which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. That’s for people
who are HIV negative. It’s a pill they take once a day that keeps them HIV negative.
Keeps them from getting HIV. And what we’re finding is,
as PrEP continues to roll out, there are a lot more people who are white
who may not be as high risk who have access to PrEP. If you’re someone for whom 85%
of the billboards are aimed at you, they have pictures of you on there,
you start to realise, ‘Hey, this is a message for me.’ We’ve had 35 years of messaging for white
gay men. They’ve gotten it, or at least they’re getting
it. And they’re far ahead than everybody else. Lower rates of health access, education and
income have all been found to play a role in the
HIV rate among gay African American men.
But these systematic and historical factors are not enough to persuade everyone.
Some people place the blame for the HIV epidemic solely on the gay black men living through
it. We live in an era where the morals
have vanished out here. And everyone’s fucking and sucking
everything they can get their hands on. This is Walter Lee Hampton II,
a controversial YouTuber on Atlanta’s gay scene. As someone who is HIV negative,
he is often accused of demonising gay black men and ignoring the evidence of what is
really behind America’s HIV problem. How do you explain the fact that it’s still
such a problem in the black community and not the white community?
Because for a lot of people that shows that it isn’t just about behaviour,
it’s about things like healthcare and education. I’m a member of the black gay community.
I understand and I see what’s going on and it’s unfortunate what I see
going on in our community. These guys are not trying to build relationships.
White guys are more prone to get into relationships. I mean, I don’t know if that’s true.
– Oh, I know it’s true. There have been studies done that show
that black gay men actually have fewer sexual partners than white gay men.
Well nobody’s going to walk into a study and talk to a person who’s taking the study
and say, ‘You know I just slept with five people in the last 48 hours.’
People are not going to tell the truth. I know what these guys are doing.
– This is like an America-wide study that shows that black men engage in less risky
sexual behaviour, have fewer partners… I would take that study and toss it into the
trash can and I’m being very serious with you. Because I know that’s not accurate.
I talk to too many people nationwide who tell me partner after partner has insisted
that they do not have protected sex – But maybe that’s the same in the white community.
– Oh it could be the same in the white community. I can’t tell you nothing about what’s
going on in white America. So in white America, men have more sexual
partners than black men. They’re just as likely to
use a condom. I couldn’t tell you anything about their sexual
practices because I’m not a white man. My point is, if the behaviour doesn’t differ
why is the problem so big in the black community? Is it not something systematic as well as
this ‘promiscuity’ that you see? When you say systematic, you think somebody’s
going round injecting these guys with HIV? No.
Okay so when you say systematic what do you mean? Explain it to me.
I mean education, access to healthcare, historical interventions being targeted
at the white community. There are a lot of factors that
a lot of other people see. Well, because I’m black and gay
and I’ve sat here in Atlanta since 1989, and I’ve witnessed and watched friends all
over the United States within the black gay community I can honestly say promiscuous,
risky sexual behaviour is the problem. That is the problem. This is my HIV medicine.
I take one a day. What would happen if you didn’t stick to this? If you don’t take your medicine you will develop Aids and then it will really kill you. So if you take your medicine, eat right, live right, you keep your T cells higher
and your viral loads down. With that you’ll be able to maintain an
HIV-positive undetectable status. What does it mean to have an undetectable
viral load? You’re not able to transmit the virus to somebody
else. So if you’re undetectable as you are now,
if you sleep with somebody, even unprotected, they would not get HIV? So it’s basically impossible for you to transmit HIV to anybody else?
As long as I take my medicine, there’s no way they can get it. There’s no way.
How much does it cost? Ooh, it costs a lot. There are different programs
out there but this costs $2,000. – Per? Per bottle. Yeah, $2,000. In the months following his diagnosis,
Daryon has joined a group called Thrive. They hold regular meetups where black gay
men socialise and talk about their experiences
living with HIV. Daryon is one of their youngest and newest
members. Some of us were just diagnosed last summer
and some of us have been living with HIV three-plus decades. The stigma then was so thick.
Because families were rejecting them, preachers were preaching that this was God’s
plague. I had friends dying and the church would not do their services. We would have memorial
services in bars, in our backyard, because they wouldn’t
do it. And then with the medicine making people so
sick a lot of people wouldn’t take the medicine. I wouldn’t take it. I took AZT for two days.
I said, ‘No, if I’m going out bring me a bottle of
scotch. I’m gonna go out with a bang.’
Well for me being newly diagnosed I was kind of scared at first. My mum, she’s a registered
nurse so she sees this all the time. And she would preach it to me:
‘make sure you wrap it up.’ So she was the first one I told and
I feel like I slapped her in the face. I get angry because I feel like
my generation didn’t do enough to protect you. That’s just me.
The first thing that goes through my mind is: you should not be positive. And young men
should not be leaving this planet with Aids, with
this disease. White people, or white men specifically, aren’t
getting it as much so the response is totally watered
down. When we think about all of the other things
that affect black men, when we do the ‘what if?’
around them, so like, what if said thing – what if police
brutality were happening against mostly white men – what
would the response be then? The onus is always on
us: ‘You should have done more to avoid you getting
it.’ We don’t challenge or question the systems
that are set up that leave us predisposed to getting HIV. Support systems like Thrive are often lifesaving
for people living with HIV. But for the most marginalised communities,
a lack of support can have dangerous consequences. For black trans women, the HIV rate is also
one in two. But their risk of homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution is higher. And each of these
make it harder to access the HIV care they need. I met Pearl in Piedmont Park as she did her
weekly outreach for the homeless women who live there. We have jeans, short pants, sweaters, dresses,
skirts… These are gift bags which consist of condoms,
lube, makeup, literature, eyebrow pencils and all
those little accessories that every girl needs. There’s not too many organisations out there
who are helping transgenders who are homeless and living with HIV. So I took it upon myself to do something like that because I was also homeless and I am living with HIV. So I was down there with them at one point.
– Were you in this park? Yes. I was on drugs, prostituting, doing
whatever it took to survive. What do you think it is about being trans
as well as black that makes people more likely to end up homeless? Well, you’re dealing with HIV, being trans,
being black. You have all them strikes against you. A lot of these trans was damaged from their
home, parents putting them out at young ages. And I know it’s got to be a deep-down hurt.
So I don’t think it’s never over and I think that’s what holds them still
into that bad spot where they at. [raps] Next year, Daryon will come off his mum’s
insurance policy leaving him unable to pay the $2,000 a month he needs for his medicine.
Through his support network, he has found out about programmes that can help towards the
cost. But for other young, gay black men across
America, these resources simply aren’t there. Right now I feel like with the younger generation,
they feel so isolated from people who have information about medicine, or who can afford
medicine so they don’t take it. That’s why it’s more
the younger generation dying now quicker than the ones
who lived through it back in the day. So if everybody had their viral loads low,
nobody would be contracting HIV? – Mm hmm. I think for a long time, people have simply
not cared. When we talk about the first initial cases, we forget that there were black people
suffering and dying from the very beginning as well. And so we became an afterthought
even from the beginning. I remember a time with communities
rallying around young men who were dying and holding them up.
To look into faces like Daryon and to think: you may not be in this situation
if people saw value in your life.

100 thoughts on “Gay, black and HIV positive: America’s hidden epidemic”

  1. Yes, promiscuous behavior is a cause for the contraction of HIV, but what causes the promiscuous behavior in the first place? Why is it that black communities are more affected than white communities? I'm not sure what the answer to my question is, but lack of healthcare and education seems pretty plausible, and that's the point the lady was trying to get across.

  2. I love it.
    She: I don’t know if that true
    Him: I KNOW it’s true. The study lies. I have seen it myself!! Lol

    How hard is it (pardon the pun) to realize HIV is 99%+ avoidable whit protected sex! How is this at all a race issue?! If you are white or black the cause/prevention/cure are ALL the same!!
    If you want to deal with a race differentiated disease you should do a documentary about diabetes! Why is the rate among black population so high! What can be done to avoid this and make more people aware.

  3. So while I'm very aware that you're at a disadvantage in America if you're black, I do not believe there is any medicine which is only distributed to whites, that's rubbish talk.

  4. White people have nothing to do with you having unprotected sex and getting HIV. People need to take responsibility for their actions.

  5. So now he's going to go around spreading it for real promoting gay sex in children's schools has America gone mad

  6. If you burger with another man with AIDS and then you catch AIDS whose fault is it the Wightman I suppose

  7. I cant believe this world.. i feel like some give hiv to others on Purpose..also alot of these so called white men secretly. Sleeping pay,paying, young homeless gaymen. For sex ive seen it myself in the village of nyc so whos giving it out really

  8. i’m so happy the HIV/Aids epidemic is getting more exposure! Thank you for sharing this story that affecting me & millions of people. To everyone, put yourself first, use condoms & get tested!

  9. This isn't an epidemic….it's a planned effort to exterminate 80% of the black race.

    And it's working.

  10. HIV, Cancer, Diabetes can still be cured by increasing the immune system in his own body! We have supplements that contain transfer factors of up to 437%.
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  11. This interviewer literally just read stats and just believes it applies for every sector of America. She’s not even from America, let alone the American south so she needs to not have such an arrogant attitude

  12. Its shameful that this disease is ravishing the black gays and straight women. Men who are in denial of their sexuality is swinging both way and risking thw lives of women, wives and yhe mother of children.

  13. Once again, it is the White Race's fault. When are black people gonna stop blaming Whites for all their problems and take the blame themselves for their kid's and their behaviors?

  14. Yes white gay men may have access to PrEP but how does that stop a black gay man from using a condom?
    Why are we becoming a plague to our own selves? I wanna see our people do better.

  15. I am completely celibate and have no regrets on being this way after my marriage didnt work when he cheated. I don't even have an interest in dating right now.

  16. If HIV was God's attack on the LGBT community, then why is it that lesbians are least likely to contract the disease??? Sounds a little odd to me…

  17. HIV medicine should be available to all people. The people without money to pay the high cost should be assisted by our government. I would like to see our high taxes help these people rather than pay for war and politicians' raises.

  18. Only sane person on this video is Walter. He speaks how it really works. Rest of the people are delusional. And they stated that Walter is controversial? Because he is telling the truth? This is simply insane. Education is important but also responsibility and protection.

  19. "If you are a black, gay man in America, your risk of contracting HIV is one in two."
    Being black, or gay, has nothing whatsoever with your chances of contracting HIV. It's all about your behavior.

  20. 1 in 2. That means if I see 2 gay dudes walking down the street then 1 has the virus. All y’all not floored by that?

  21. Its 70% for black men in Detroit. Steady rate 20 years. White men 8% white females 3% black females 60%.

  22. They say they can isolate HIV, and measure "viral loads" with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. But why is it that the scientist who won a Nobel Prize for inventing the PCR test, Kary Mullis, says HIV does not cause AIDS? Dr. Peter Duesberg was the first scientist to isolate the cancer gene. He was also the first scientist to discover and map out the genome sequence of the retrovirus. He agrees that HIV does not cause AIDS. Also, Dr. Rodney Richards, one of the first scientists to create the first HIV antibody test, disagrees with the "HIV causes AIDS" hypothesis. Ettiene de Harven, published first images of budding virus through EM, and he does not agree with the HIV hypothesis. Even Luc Montagnier, who won a Nobel Prize in 2007 for supposedly discovering HIV, publicly announced at the 1990 AIDS conference that HIV did not, after all, kill T-cells and could not be the cause of AIDS. Montagnier also admitted on French TV, in 1997, that he never isolated the virus — and neither has anyone else. (rethinkingaids)on Facebook

  23. in West Africa,most of men hate condom's.
    and I think alot of people might be living with it but might not know .

  24. funny thing.,…they rather took pills for protection and leaving the all mighty condom's which can protect one from all sources of the killer viruses.
    OMG I'm out!!!

  25. Yea I def understand everything that goes on in the gay world and understand it all because I move witness it first hand. Some people have to take responsibilities for their actions and just pick up your life and move on. Its stupid to think that you can have sex with over 1000 men by the age of 30 some the age of 25 and think it’s impossible to catch hiv and sometimes diseases that are worst. Be smart and respect yourself

  26. Many black men leave Birmingham and move to Atlanta and the risks of getting HIV is much higher. Sleeping without using condoms is stupid even in 2019. You can still get STDs as well as HIV.

  27. Somethings you just have to take responsibility for. Come on now. Stop talking like y'all don't know to put on condoms to protect yourself. PROTECT YOURSELF PERIOD

  28. What does race have to do with high risk of HIV? I always thought it was anybody who indulged in risky behavior.

  29. Homophobia is not a cure
    Racism is not a cure
    Black people loving each other and looking out for each other and encouraging open mindedness and understanding that there is no one way to be black, we open our world to each other, to our mental health to our sexual health we heal not just ourselves but eaCHOTHER!!!!
    With black power comes black responsibility~ love eaCHOTHER and love love regardless of what is takes its form as!

  30. A Planned Systematic sexual way of killing off of black males. They get Long turn Prison sentenced for smaller crimes . With no chance of recovery. Part of Black removal from America.. with out Black males, no Black babies. Planned parenthood, less lack babies. Medication priced so high that you can’t afford. Give it some thought.

  31. 2019, and it all boil down to this:"We got to reap just what we sow." No matter what the price, bad choices brings consequences.


  33. Is it just me or does the bald guy with the glasses sitting on the red couch strikingly resemble bishop eddie long?

  34. It just as many promiscuous women's need to be on prep as men's but you wouldn't have will get black people to be careful

  35. On my god, blaming white people because they fcuk around and don't protect their own dangly bits. Well now I've heard it all😒

  36. The difference between hiv and herpes simplex virus or hsv : hiv has to be inside you by like a cut and the who has hiv their blood has to touch your open wound and unprotected is also another. While herpes you can get by skin to skin contact. The reason im saying all of this is because hiv is like venom and herpes is like poison. I just thought about that

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