Treating HIV and substance use disorders in gay Black men

Opioid Response Network trainings that help others address racism and homophobia for better outcomes.

The Request

ORN’s Benjamin H. Nguyễn, MSW, ASW, CPH, received a request for training from the Nevada Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center which turned into a dynamic presentation anyone can ask ORN to replicate in their own community. In this case, the requester was preparing for their annual conference for HIV care providers and was looking for a speaker on best practices for substance use disorder treatment and recovery with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community and racial disparities. “It was a perfect fit for ORN,” said Ben.

For the job Ben worked closely with ORN Advanced Implementation Scientist Larry Bryant, PhD, MPH, BSW, RRT. “Their goal was to give providers actionable steps to take in working with this population; specifically with same gender loving African American men,” said Dr. Bryant. “One in two gay Black men are at risk for HIV and this population has unique experiences that can also lead to substance use disorders. But it’s possible to treat both health issues, and this audience was eager for best practices.”

Dr. Bryant crafted a training to share immediate actions and long-term strategies to apply to their work. This included affirmative language to use when communicating with patients; education on how to structure specific situations so that LGBTQ+ patients feel comfortable in sharing private information; and how best to engage this population in treatment. “It was also largely a discussion on common life experiences that often influence the behaviors of gay Black men. Providers need to understand where these patients are and then meet them there in order to effectively address their treatment and recovery needs,” added Dr. Bryant.

Substance use disorders are complex medical diseases that often co-exist with other health issues like HIV. This is why it’s essential that the Opioid Response Network (and everyone!) recognize and address intersectionality across the continuum of care and in our work educating and training the masses. Anyone can submit a request at to have a free training delivered similar to what Ben and Dr. Bryant provided in Nevada.

Take Note

LGBTQ+ people are met with a variety of intersecting experiences such as racism, discrimination and stigma that can lead to elevated rates of substance use and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. The Opioid Response Network’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity Workgroup supports the coalition’s overarching goal of providing education and training in the prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid and stimulant use disorders to LGBTQ+ communities in a culturally responsive and structurally competent manner. To achieve this mission, this workgroup provides resources as well as guidance on education and training activities.

About the Opioid Response Network

The Opioid Response Network (ORN) was established through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funding awarded to the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry working collaboratively with the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network, at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Columbia University Division on Substance Use Disorders and 46 national organizations. ORN provides education and training in the prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid and stimulant use disorders at the local level and at no cost.

For more information


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