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HIV Doesn’t Stop Bisi Alimi
It’s 2015 and HIV/AIDS still ravages the globe; Claiming the lives of more Black men and other minorities domestically and abroad.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta shows that only half (49.5 percent) of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. are getting treatment for their infection. And of that number, only 42% have achieved viral suppression—a validation that their virus is under control at a level that helps keep them healthy while also significantly reducing their chances of transmitting HIV to others.
As National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day approaches (April 10), it’s fitting to check in with global HIV advocate, Bisi Alimi. He talks the talk and boldly walks the walk when it comes to owning his truth as a Gay, HIV positive Nigerian man. His story of fleeing his country happened about the time he learned of his own HIV infection. He says he was inspired to get tested by his good friend Ibrahim.
“Oh I love him so much and I still do. He was one crazy dude. It is really funny though ’cause we never thought we could be friends. We really never liked each other, I think. I think it was more my low self esteem than any other thing. But his death opened my eyes and turned me to an activist.”
It was 2004 when Bisi was diagnosed as being HIV positive.
“I mean I kind of knew I might be positive. Mind you, Ibrahim was not the only friend I lost at that time. It was a very dark period in the gay community in Nigeria. We were facing double stigma and while we could talk about and own one of them, we could not talk about or own the HIV side of it. We were so ashamed to accept the fact that it was this thing that has been killing us and we have no real community leader.”
According to Bisi, from 2004 to 2009, he told few people about his infection, ‘only 4 people in the world knew I was positive. Till now I cannot even tell my family I am positive. I know they know though but they won’t hear it from me.’
Among all gay and bisexual men, African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. Young African American gay and bisexual men accounted for the highest number of new HIV infections in 2010 among all gay and bisexual men.
Across the world, men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV. This is also true among the African American population. Of all HIV infections in 2011 among male African Americans, 72% were transmitted via sex between men. Get the facts about HIV/AIDS right here.
Some content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Image courtesy of photoshoot for Blanck Digital Magazine- by Asiko.