The State of Play in HIV Health Promotion for Black and Minority Ethnic Men Who Have Sex with Men

By Scott A. Ellis and Chinelo L. Njaka.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Research around the sexual practices of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United Kingdom and the United States suggests that these groups of men are less likely to test for HIV in the acute stage, more likely to be infected with multiple sexually transmitted infections, and more likely to have unmet sexual education needs. Despite this, HIV incidence and prevalence in these population groups continue to be higher than others, suggesting that health promotion interventions are either missing or not reaching this diverse demographic.

The barriers to BME MSM work need to be identified in order to ascertain key areas of improvement for the field of HIV prevention work and to reach more effectively the diverse communities of MSM in the UK and beyond. A key issue for this area of work is the nebulous and homogenistic compartmentalising of men in the “MSM” and “BME” categorisations. Labelling men in this fashion ignores self-identity in terms of sexual behaviour and complicates effective data analysis among high-risk MSM groups. Simply to label the non-White, non-western group of MSM as “BME” is, in itself, a barrier to engagement and neutralises the critical importance of cultural differences among ethnic minorities that are known to result in a heightened need for sexual health education and behavioural maintenance.

This paper will look at the issues of diversity and communities, and how they factor into the current elevated needs (sexual, social, and structural) of BME MSM in the UK. It will also discuss the impact of the prominent existence of a “normalised” “White” ethnic majority community and why this may well be preventing health promotion agencies from working successfully with BME MSM.

Keywords: BME, Black and Minority Ethnic, Black Minority Ethnic, MSM, Men Who Have Sex with Men, HIV, Health Promotion, Health Improvement, Sexual Health, Classifications, Racial/Ethnic, Nomenclature, Terminology, Operationalisation

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.29-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 656.214KB).

Scott A. Ellis

Student/Researcher, Health Promotion/Improvement, University of East London, London, Greater London, UK

A graduate of the University of East London’s targeted Gay Men’s Health Promotion course, Scott works in campaign development for a leading HIV charity in collaboration with the Department of Health. He is currently studying for his BSc (Hons) in Health Promotion at the University of East London and is additionally involved in the NHS’ National Chlamydia Screening Programme.

Chinelo L. Njaka

Ph.D. Candidate, School of Social Sciences, Sociology Discipline, University of Manchester, Manchester, Greater Manchester, UK

Chinelo is a PhD sociology student at the University of Manchester, researching mixed race/ethnicity in Britain and the United States of America. Her thesis is entitled, ‘Mixed Race in the United States of America and Britain: A Comparative Study.’ Based in London, she also works in programme development for a leading HIV charity, working on prevention projects targeting African communities in London.


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