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7 Health Tips for Gay Black Men
By Walker Tisdale III on August 26, 2015
Gay and other men who have sex with men (MSM), are at increased risk of HIV infection as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But HIV/STIs are not the only health threats that Black Gay Men should be prioritizing.
The CDC has released data on the leading causes of death for Black males in 2013. And here are seven health actions Black Gay Men should consider.
1. Come Out to someone you know and trust regarding your sexuality. The stressors associated with masking part of your identity, self-censorship, and isolation often lead to depression, increased sexual-risk taking, and suicidal ideation. You don’t have to walk in a Gay Pride Parade but living ‘your truth’ without apology or shame cannot be underestimated. Closeted gay men are said to attempt suicide five times the rate of national average.
2. Only engage in low/no-risk sexual activities. HIV/STI’s disproportionately impact Black and other men who have sex with men of color. It is a preventable, incurable disease. Abstinence. Be monogamous. Condoms.
3. Get ObamaCare or some health insurance coverage. Black men as a group, regardless of sexual identity are at high risk for heart disease. Lack health insurance coverage exacerbates this risk. ER visits can come too late and costs the country too much. Preventive care and regular physical exams help extend the lives of Black men.
4. Avoid illicit drugs and excessive alcohol. The fact is that drugs and alcohol impair judgement and they are common in many Gay Pride events, gay nightclubs, etc.. Impaired judgement can lead to dangerous situations, including overdosing, physical altercations, or worse.
5. Actively lobby your Representative. Local and state health departments, health clinics, often do not account for critical health services of its LGBT constituents, especially true in many LGBT hostile jurisdictions. For example, health departments are not publicly audited, rated, or sanctioned based on quality of services, engagement, disease control, etc. In the 21st century, this should be a standard.
6. Get active in #BlackLivesMatter because it includes you! Social and/or racial injustice, whether from law enforcement, school systems, employers, etc. has historically made Black men (of all sexual orientations) question their safety in the USA. Involvement in social movements will help push remedies to create more equity under the law. Do something.
7. Reduce stress in your life. Exercise. Pray. Meditate. Laugh. Make new friends. By reducing the stress in your life you lower risk for several cancers, obesity, depression, anxiety, migraines, and even strengthen the immune system. So just do it.
These seven simple actions promote better health and can increase overall quality of life. Obviously there are many more behaviors and prevention strategies you can incorporate in your life for greater health outcomes. Black Gay Men face a great deal of known and unknown health threats than ever before, so it’s critical to be proactive in preserving one’s health status.
Walker Tisdale is the Executive Editor of Healthyblackmen.org and Executive Director of the Health Institute for Men.