NEW YORK - Behavioral health and cultural expert Cleo Manago continues to stimulate the national discourse on HIV/AIDS and the Black community health. On Friday, February 25, in further commemoration of Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, he will participate in a the New York City Department of Health's Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day panel discussion entitled "Part 2: Social Vulnerabilities to HIV-Disparities, Challenges, Solutions." Joining Manago will be Dr. Gail Wyatt, UCLA AIDS Institute Director, Melvin Hampton, NYU Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies and moderator, Dr. Monica Sweeney, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control.
The discussion for the panel will focus on men, women and adolescents social vulnerabilities to HIV transmission and how this gives rise to disparities in HIV prevalence and incidence. The panel will also include potential solutions to addressing these disparities and vulnerabilities, and provide insight on activities and programming the Department of Health and other organizations can engage in to address the issues of disparities and social vulnerability to HIV.
Cleo Manago is well known for addressing the culturally and historically relevant barriers to sexual health stigma and responsibility, and the challenge of cultural inequity in American society at large. A former doctoral student in Transformative Learning at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, he was invited to the White House last year by the Obama administration to contribute to a planning discussion on Black men's health.
And during a time when non-profits are shutting down and losing funding, he has successfully secured financial resources for three of his longtime programs; Manago's study, entitled Critical Thinking and Cultural Affirmation (CTCA), his Los Angeles-based AmASSI Centers for Wellness, Education and Culture, and Black Men's Xchange (BMX), the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to promoting healthy self-concept and behavior, cultural affirmation and critical consciousness among same gender loving (SGL), gay-identifying and bisexual African-descended males and allies.
In addition, Manago's short film, "HIV Healing in Young Black America: Getting the Language Right," which examines the rarely addressed relationship between Black self-concept, culture, sexuality, masculinity and the capacity to protect the community from HIV and self-destruction can be viewed below:
Manago asserts that Africans Americans need a 'National Black Restoration and Self-Love' (NBRSL) Day,' as a means to heighten concern about HIV/AIDS within the Black community. Expresses Cleo, "For 30 years now, since the first HIV/AIDS diagnosis, this issue has yet to be a priority in African American communities, including among sub-groups most impacted by the disease. The ratio of the epidemic among HIV-informed Black men who have sex with men has never diminished. Not because of the typical, politically charged allegation of Black hyper-homophobia or ignorance, but because HIV/AIDS has yet to outweigh pre-existing core-challenges yet resolved in Black communities, and in America."
"We need a culturally restorative, educational and affirming Black critical thought enhancing, holistic initiative for African Americans," he adds. "Everyday Black folks are just not interested in HIV/AIDS, or most things with that issue as the sole focus. I applaud the New York City Health Department and look forward to what promises to be a stimulating panel discussion."