At Cascade AIDS Project, one of our primary missions is to eliminate the stigma that is associated with HIV. Stigmas are often negative, hurtful and most of the time, not even true – they can turn any subject into breeding grounds for adversity and hostility.
Stigmas are like stains on beloved t-shirts, but they aren’t wine stains or stains from blackberry picking that you know how to remove. They are the stains that have no origin – they’re overwhelmingly ugly and seem to stick on no matter how many times you wash them. Sometimes they may fade, but everybody knows they’re still there.
Based out of Norwalk, Connecticut, the World Health Clinicians, a non-profit based out of Connecticut, has started a new campaign focused on eliminating the HIV stigma called HIV Equal.
The goal of HIV Equal is to show that everyone’s status, whether negative or positive, is irrelevant – what’s important is that we all have a status, and that we know it. Hence, we’re all HIV Equal. The media of the campaign is photographs; people who support HIV Equal wear an HIV = sticker on their body and are then photographed – this is to illustrate that all statuses are created equal. But, there is one tricky and kind of awesome catch to this campaign: in order to get your photo taken, you have to be tested on site first. A founder of HIV Equal explains, “”HIV Equal goes a step further to include testing so that everyone photographed knows their status. We need to take care of ourselves and each other, as well as to reignite the global conversation about HIV to stop the spread of misinformation, fear and judgment.” Like I said, a tricky little test that is incredibly deep in meaning.
After the photo is taken, people can describe their status, which appears in the bottom corner of the photograph as status = (fill in the blank here). You can put in any word you want, as long as it doesn’t say negative or positive; the campaign wants you to think more along the lines of what makes you an individual. Are you flawless? Crazy? Optimistic? You choose.
The campaign so far has created a nifty video (found in the link below), as well as created a multimedia campaign found on their website (HIVequal.org), their twitter page (@HIVequal) and is planning on traveling the country to photograph and test more people.
That’s right you guys, this campaign is basically a fabulous, on the road photo shoot that provides HIV testing. It’s like, get tested, get a photo – how glam/AWESOME is that? I also haven’t told you that the campaign is being run by Jack Mackenroth, a Project Runway alumni.
There are literally so many great aspects of this campaign – things I haven’t even started to mention, like a celebrity photographer, drag queens, impassioned doctors AND the color magenta. Magenta. Yes, so all the while working hard to create the image of HIV Equal, Mackenroth and his counterparts are also using magenta as their signature campaign color. I am dizzy with excitement.
So what should we do next? Well, you should probably read the article about HIV Equal written up by PR Newswire and then watch the campaign video. You should probably also head on over to the HIVequal.org and read more about the mission and see all of their photos. Finally, you should tweet at them to come to Portland. Seriously.
Oh, and here’s the link to the article, duh: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/world-health-clinicians-launches-hiv-testing-and-anti-stigma-initiative-hiv-equal-227811581.html#prettyPhoto