World AIDS Day 2018: Know Your Status

Editor's note:

Dr. Elwin Wu explores how World AIDS Day 2018 “Know Your Status” really is a matter of status. Dr. Wu shares results from years of research with a highly stigmatized group of individuals, and outlines a path to healthier outcomes. This post appears in full on the Columbia University School of Social Work blog.

Elwin Wu
December 05, 2018

On World AIDS Day 2018, “Know Your Status” really is a matter of status -- particularly among this group of individuals.

Do you remember the first time you saw a man and a woman kiss? Most young adults do when I ask them. Usually they were quite young, under 10. Maybe they saw their parents kiss or a couple kissing on a television show. Then I ask: what about two men kissing? Err. Pause. Most reply: much later, maybe at 14, 18, or even as an official adult at 21.

What about showing tenderness to a partner, or providing loving care? In my experience, many men in same-sex relationship had not seen examples of these basic foundations of a relationship. How, then, did they learn
how to show tenderness and care to a partner of the same sex?

Holding hands, two black men

That’s where I begin in one of my studies of black men who have sex with men. How does heteronormativity impact their relationships? I also looked at the prevalence of child sexual abuse in this population and whether it contributes to the likelihood of acquiring HIV or dying.

What I found was incredibly stark, and highlights the need for our continued observance of this day of remembrance, World AIDS Day. This year’s theme, “know your status,” resonates beyond the virus that causes HIV. And it really is about status.

Read the entire post.

Affiliated publication: Childhood sexual abuse among Black men who have sex with men: A cornerstone of a syndemic?


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