Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 04 March, 1997


Address Crisis of HIV-Infection in Gay and Bi-Sexual Males

by Corrine Hicks


Reacting to alarming official reports of a 21 percentage rate of all AIDS cases among gay and bi-sexual Latino men in New York City, New York's Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center (visit the Center's Web Site: played host to over a hundred particpants from throughout the Empire City, under the banner of the organization, Encuento, which means "encounter" or "gathering." Gay and Latino men took part in Spanish-language workshops and panel discussions created for them, reflecting on their sex lives, their drug and alcohol use, HIV prevention and AIDS support services.

The Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, situated for over 13 years at 208 West 13th Street, has provided a home address for all classes of people who are attracted to the same gender. Encuentro, according to the Center's publication, Center Voice, emerged from an ongoing series of community forums--known as TALK SEX, which have been mainly workshops designed to give gay and bi-sexual men from a variety of backgrounds, opportunities to explore facets of their sexual behavior and to expand their safe-sex awareness in the midst of the current AIDS crisis.

Encuentro has been funded in part by the Paul Rapoport Foundation and co-sponsored by Project Connect, the Center's drug and alcohol abuse program. Other Latino and Hispanic-group sponsors reflect how many of such groups add richly to New York gay community diversity. They include SIDAahora; Alianza Dominicana, Hispanic Aids Forum; POZ en Espanol; HoMoVISIONS, Latino Gay Men of New York, Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment (PRIDE); Latino y Latinas Ambiente de NY (LLANY); Venezuelan Gay and Lesbian Association (VGLA) and the Columbian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA.)

Those attending the Forum agreed that the rising rate of HIV-infection among men of color outpaces the rate of infection among other gay and bisexual men. Prevention strategies in Hispanic and Latino communities have been muted and mostly ineffective. The most effective strategies involve those of peer contact-education. Thus, when Latino and Hispanic males address those like themselves, prevention efforts seem more likely to make lasting impressions.

Besides hosting Latino and Hispanic efforts at improving communities, The New York Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center provides space for more than 300 gay organizations that meet regularly under its singular roof. These groups, according to Richard D. Burns, Esq., Executive Director, and Judith E. Turkel, Esq., President, range from the more radical Lesbian Avengers to the Republican Log Cabin Club, and they include numerous 12-step groups as well as cultural, social and professional organizations. The original home of ACT UP was founded within these walls, and GLAAD, the famed gay media watch group, was birthed here also. "The Center," say its officers, "strives to be a place where everyone within our communities feels welcomed."

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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