February 7, 2013 marks the 13th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatment. In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, In The Meantime Men's Group, Inc. (ITMT) LA's premier Black Gay Men's Wellness organization will host a series of events and activities starting, Tuesday, February 5, 2013 and concluding on Sunday, February 10, 2013.
Among the events will be a PROTEST and PRESS CONFERENCE adjacent to Leimert Park in South Los Angeles set for Thursday, February 7th at 11am to unveil 'X Homophobia', a new anti-homophobia campaign. In The Meantime, which spearheaded the new campaign, will host the press conference, protest and street outreach in conjunction with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). The groups will stage a peaceful protest and press conference while launching the new advocacy and awareness campaign that is intended to bring light to the devastating impact of homophobia in the Black community including HIV/AIDS. Immediately following the press conference from 11:30am to 12:30pm the groups will offer free HIV testing as well as condom distribution to businesses and people along Crenshaw Blvd. As part of the event, AHF's 53 foot long 'Condom Nation' big rig will be onsite-and covered with In the Meantime's groundbreaking new 'Our Love is Worth Protecting-Get Tested' billboard art, which features two handsome young shirtless African American men embracing.
"It is in the best interest of our survival as Black people that we better access the limitless resources of all of our people," said Jeffrey King, Executive Director of In The Meantime Men's Group, Inc. "Unless we start today to build a society that celebrates diversity we are doomed, and thousands of human beings will continue to live in fear that breeds contempt and hatred. As we enter 2013, it is incumbent upon each of us to stretch over to the other side of our communities and better understand who is in our houses, our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches. We are all divine children of God and we have been birthed with the capacity to Love unconditionally."
"Although African Americans represent just 14% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of new HIV infections. Sadly, young, Black gay and bisexual men are among those at highest risk for infection," said Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This is one reason why a campaign like 'X-Homophobia' is so crucial in getting the word out and pushing back against prejudice and fears that may interfere with young people getting tested, using condoms or taking other preventive measures to remain HIV-negative, or get linked into care should they test HIV-positive. We applaud In the Meantime for this innovative campaign and will work with them to spread the message that homophobia, racism and HIV can't stop them in their mission."
In addition to the press conference, protest and street outreach on Thursday, ITMT is coordinating a series of other events and activities as part of its 'Code Red: Sound the Alarm' campaign roll out. The group has drafted an online 'X-Homophobia' pledge to counter homophobia, fear and discrimination. The pledge reads:
TAKE THE PLEDGE:
The X-Homophobia Pledge
I, _________________, pledge that as an activist against discrimination and an ambassador of peace, I will:
Other events and activities that are part of In the Meantime's 'Code Red: Sound the Alarm' include:
Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 7-9 p.m.
Preaching to the Choir This candlelight vigil will host community members, elected officials, community activists, and partner agencies.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Canvas HIV LA
In The Meantime's Mobile Testing Unit and staff will canvas Long Beach, Watts, Compton, Inglewood and the Crenshaw Corridor to provide HIV tests and information to the Black community.
Thursday, February 7, 2013, 11 p.m. until
Code Red Flash Mob I In The Meantime BoiRevolution (in conjunction with AIDS Healthcare Foundation's 'Condom Nation' and Club Magnum) take to the streets and mob one of L.A.'s hottest clubs providing condoms and educational information directed to Black gay men. Raffle for tickets to Rihanna Concert. Resource table inside the club. HIV rapid testing available in front of the club.
Sunday, February 10, 2013, 11 p.m. until
Code Red Flash Mob II In The Meantime BoiRevolution (in conjunction with AIDS Healthcare Foundation's 'Condom Nation' and Josh Pilgrim's Boi Bar) take to the streets and mob one of L.A.'s hottest clubs providing condoms and educational information directed to Black gay men. Raffle for tickets to Rihanna Concert. Resource table inside the club. HIV rapid testing available near the club.
Finally, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) publishes a comprehensive fact sheet on various populations and demographic groups affected by HIV/AIDS. Following is a link to KFF's December 2012 report titled "Black Americans and HIV/AIDS."
About In the Meantime Men's Group Inc.
In The Meantime Men's Group, Inc., (ITMT) is a 501(C) 3 community-based organization purposed to enrich, empower, and extend the lives of intergenerational black men, respectful of sexual orientation, through social, educational, health and wellness programs and services. Over the past 13 years In The Meantime has been on the forefront of creating an environment that supports, empowers and educates black, gay, same gender-loving and bisexual men in Los Angeles County.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to nearly 200,000 individuals in 28 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org.