Cuba: Gay scene and HIV education as borders open

As a youth growing up in Chicago, Phill Wilson had a Cuban fetish. The Spanish literature major romanticized the island nation, which was off-limits to U.S. travelers since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963.

A half-century later, Wilson — now the out president of the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute —would find himself en route to Havana, not just to soak up Cuban culture, but to see what the U.S. and Cuba could learn from each other in the fight against HIV and homophobia.

Wilson led a delegation of 15 gay men, many of color, to Cuba for two weeks starting on Christmas Eve; that was less than a year after President Obama helped normalize the once-strained relationship between the U.S. and communist Cuba.

Wilson says his team was greeted warmly, meeting with government officials, everyday Cubans, and people living with HIV. Wilson was impressed with the nation’s response to the disease, which has been greatly aided by the public information campaign of Mariela Castro, the LGBT-supportive daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro.

“From a public health perspective, from a human rights perspective, they are light years ahead of where we are with HIV,” Wilson says. Read more via the Advocate