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CDC Backs Groundbreaking Black Male HIV Study

NEW YORK - In a cooperative agreement, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) granted the Research Foundation of The City University of New York, on behalf of Hunter College, $2 million for Evaluating Locally-Developed (Homegrown) HIV Prevention Interventions for African-American Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM).

 

Validating the importance of the study, the CDC notes, "HIV infection directly or indirectly related to male-to-male sexual intercourse, is the single major contributor to HIV infection among African-Americans, accounting for an estimated 50% of all US AIDS cases diagnosed among African-American men. Despite this disproportionate burden, few HIV prevention/risk reduction interventions have been specifically designed and evaluated for efficacy among African American Men who have Sex with Men (AAMSM). The proposed study will address this gap by implementing and rigorously testing the efficacy in reducing HIV risk behaviors among a sample of 300 AAMSM, ages 18-55, in New York City through the Critical Thinking and Cultural Affirmation (CTCA) HIV risk behavior intervention."

 

Developed by Cleo Manago in 1994, CTCA is a culturally informed preventive health strategy that addresses positive mental, sexual and community health, encouraging self-actualization and responsibility. It has been in practice in Los Angeles, for more than a decade, and in New York City since 2002.

"The CTCA model is particularly responsive to what black males go through, as opposed to a generic model with simply a black face. Traditional approaches addressing sexual identity (alone) have used mainstream frameworks, as opposed to those that are more respectful and relevant to black men exclusively and their experiences," explains Manago, a behavioral health expert.

As founder and CEO of AmASSI Health and Cultural Center (AmASSI is an acronym for African American Advocacy, Support-Services and Survival Institute), the AmASSI Group and the Black Men's Xchange (BMX), Manago believes the standard paradigm for research to stop the massive spread of the HIV virus amongst AAMSM, remains improperly prepared, uninformed and acculturated to effectively address the health challenges of black men. In contrast, his CTCA model is built around enhancing the critical thinking capacity of black men. It affirms them in the process of which reasoning capacities are enhanced and triggered. Low self esteem, internalized oppression, the lack of planning and preparation for long life are engaged and raised to a higher level in order to reduce risks (sexual and other) and change behavior patterns for the better.

The principal investigator of the cooperative agreement is Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler, Associate Dean of Research, Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City.

"My enthusiasm and respect for the great work done by Dr. Wheeler led me to him as a partner in the proposal to the CDC for the CTCA evaluation. Dr. Wheeler agreed, bringing onboard Hunter College and Dr. Michael Lewis, in order to create a dynamic team around the powerful and culturally focused evaluation of the Critical Thinking and Cultural Affirmation methodology," explains Manago.

As to the litany of ongoing conversations concerning the rise in new HIV infections in black women, Manago concludes that, "unsafe sex puts both men and women at risk. Therefore, the focus must be on behavior---if we are ever going to see a noticeable decrease in the HIV infection rate within the black community."

 

 



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