Back by popular demand, “As Much As I Can,” an immersive theater experience will be in Baltimore September 7 – 14. This experience is designed to elevate the voices of Black gay men and encourage a transformative shift in attitudes, beliefs, and understanding of their lived experiences. The stories told as part of this experience, along with the realities they reveal, reinforce the importance of listening to those most affected by HIV and supporting innovative community programs to address what The New York Times Magazine calls “a public health failure.”
Be sure to reserve your free ticket by visiting www.acceleratetickets.com.
“A Much AS I Can” is a key component of ACCELERATE which is aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States, ACCELERATE! is ViiV Healthcare’s four-year, $10 million commitment to support innovative projects that focus on improving HIV outcomes for Black gay men in two cities hardest hit by HIV — Baltimore, Maryland, and Jackson, Mississippi.
At ViiV Healthcare, we develop and support sustainable community programs — with and for the HIV community — focused on education, treatment and prevention and access to care. Guided by this commitment and the persistent, disproportionate impact of HIV on Black Americans, especially gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), we launched the ACCELERATE! Initiative on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) in 2015.
ACCELERATE! is guided by three key strategies to increase access to and retention in high-quality HIV prevention, care and treatment for Black gay men:
- Listen to men’s experiences and prioritize their perspectives to drive impact.
- Activate key community and research insights through collaborations and funding for new efforts that inspire and support men to seek and maintain quality healthcare.
- Amplify those insights and ongoing lessons from ACCELERATE! to inform current paradigms and practices and improve the delivery of HIV prevention, care and treatment.
Our Ethnographic Research: Meet Me Where I Want to Be
To kick off the Initiative, ViiV Healthcare commissioned an ethnographic research study beginning with a comprehensive environment assessment to familiarize the research team with daily life in Baltimore and Jackson. The assessment also helped to establish an understanding about the contexts in which Black gay men operate at home, in the clinic and out in the world.
The research team interviewed 30 men, both HIV-negative and HIV-positive, in addition to their friends, family members and other influencers. Interviewers spent one to two days with each man. The study team also interviewed civic leaders, providers and others involved in the HIV care environment in these two cities and conducted an extensive review of media, images and messages that shape the broader cultural conversation around HIV/AIDS.
The research took a holistic view of men’s lives exploring characteristics of the HIV epidemic among Black gay and bisexual men in Baltimore and Jackson. Coupled with insights from the local communities, this research identified opportunities to put this research into action:
- Boost empowerment and strengthen networks to break down isolation and stigma; connect men to networks of support; and expand delivery of HIV prevention, treatment and care.
- Make sexual education relevant with enhanced content for adults that reflects today’s context and can be delivered in person and online.
- Make testing a bridge to prevention, care and treatment by piloting a revised protocol for men who test negative for HIV to better link them to healthcare, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and other community support services and networks.
- Strengthen navigation services that help guide men through complex systems and make it easier to enter and get back into care.