Cleo Manago, the founder and executive director of Black Men’s Xchange, the nation’s largest and oldest national organization that advocates on behalf of same gender loving (SGL), gay-identifying, non-gay identifying and bisexual men of African descent, released the following statement on the eve of the 2012 United States Conference on AIDS:
“This Sunday, the National Minority AIDS Council will hold the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Conference on AIDS, which will be yet another example of how the HIV/AIDS apparatus in this country fails to take seriously the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is devastating the communities of black men who love and have sex with other men.
The recent data from the National Institutes of Health, showing that black men who date men are infected at a rate twice that of their white male peers every year, make it clear where the focus should lie. But this conference, held by an organization that is supposed to be concerned with the AIDS epidemic in minority communities, makes no mention of the severe plight of black men and has no panel or discussion planned to address this crisis. This oversight is deeply troubling and, frankly, irresponsible.
For nearly 30 years, HIV/AIDS has ravaged black communities in the United States and abroad without any calls for, or creation of, a national effort to address this issue. It is long past time that the National Minority AIDS Council and all organizations, including government agencies at all levels, to come to terms with the fact that there is no way to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States without a focused campaign to eradicate the epidemic among Black men.”