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Open Letter From National Black Justice Coalition

Dear Friends,

Last week, we heard once again that Black gay and bisexual men are responsible for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Black community, a dangerous stereotype repeated on ABC's "The View" by host Sherri Shepherd and guest host D. L. Hughley.

While discussing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood, Shepherd and Hughley communicated oft-repeated misinformation about the causes of increased HIV rates among Black women.  

Here is an excerpt from the exchange on the June 22 broadcast:

Hughley: When you look at the prevalence of HIV in the African American Community, it's primarily young women who are getting it from men who are on the down low. That's the thing.

Shepherd: The down low is black men who've been going out. They are having sex with men and they're not telling their girlfriends or their wives that they're gay and they're husbands, as well. And it's very prevalent with African American women because they come home and have sex with their wives or their girlfriends. And they're not telling them that they're gay.

Shepherd: It's so big in the Black community with women because they're having unprotected sex with men who have been having sex with... with men.

Following this exchange, D.L. Hughley went on to express his support for gay marriage. While we applaud his support, we cannot ignore the need for responsible reporting of the facts, by Hughley, Shepherd, and others who have irresponsibly repeated this stereotype.

Last week, ABC refused to issue an on-air correction.

Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention told the National Newspaper Publisher's Association in October of 2009, the CDC "has looked to see what proportion of [HIV] infections is coming from male partners who are bisexual and found that there are actually relatively few."  According to Dr. Fenton and the CDC's research, most HIV infections can be attributed to other factors including injecting drugs and drug use.

It is time that we have an informed dialogue around the truths about HIV/AIDS in the Black community, void of the stereotypes about Black LGBT people--engaging Shepherd, Hughley, and other celebrity voices.

NBJC joins the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in calling for immediate action to correct these falsehoods that put our community in harm's way.

We refuse to stay silent, and we hope you will join us. Take action by:

1: Clicking here to read a transcript of the offending broadcast and sign the petition.

2: Posting a link of GLAAD's Action Alert to your Twitter feed, Facebook page, and any other social media you use to spread the word to your network.

It is all of our responsibility to correct the spreading of myths that contribute to hostility towards African-American LGBT people.

In solidarity,

Sharon J. Lettman
Executive Director
National Black Justice Coalition



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