The multimedia campaign fights the stigma associated with HIV by illustrating that everyone is equally valuable regardless of HIV status. Participants who sign up to take a photo will also take an HIV test with an on-hand health professional as part of a greater effort to help end the fear around HIV testing.
The visual aspect to the HIV Equal campaign photographs individuals with a unique “HIV=” logo, which strategically appears on their body. As a play on the word “status,” an individualized caption will read ‘STATUS:_______,’ and every model picks a word that exemplifies one aspect of their personality. This alludes to the fact that who we are as people is much more important than an HIV status.
Heading up the testing portion of the campaign is Chief Medical Officer and World Health Clinicians co-founder Dr. Gary Blick, who understands the urgency of outreach especially to the younger generations. “According to the CDC, approximately 26% of all new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24 years; and of that group 60% do not know they are infected. As a result they do not seek treatment which drastically increases their chances of illness and transmission of HIV to others. HIV equal appeals to that demographic and will change the way they think about getting tested. Knowledge is power.”
The concept of the campaign was designed by Jack Mackenroth of Project Runway fame, in collaboration with renowned celebrity photographer Thomas Evans. They will utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to disseminate the photos until the signature pink glow becomes nationally recognizable. After living with HIV for 24 years, Mackenroth has witnessed the effects of HIV stigma firsthand.
“Our goal is to photograph people from all walks of life who support ending HIV stigma, regardless of their HIV status. We launched the campaign with celebrities, politicians and many recognizable faces in order to draw attention to our mission but we want to include everyone since HIV affects us all,” Mackenroth explains. “But 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 help break down all of the misinformation, fear and judgment.”
Thomas Evans adds, “It’s really a call to action for everyone to know their status because now we have the tools to treat HIV and to stop further transmission. By getting tested these individuals are showing love for themselves and the greater community.”
The HIV Equal campaign officially launches at the World Health Clinicians’ wellness event on October 26th and includes an exhibition of the first set of photos featuring Broadway star Nick Adams (“La Cage Aux Folles,” “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”), Congressman Jim Himes, AIDS and gay rights activist Peter Staley, actor/singer Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), and drag superstar Lady Bunny among many others.
HIV Equal will soon take the photo shoot and HIV testing campaign to cities across the country.
To learn more about HIV Equal, please visit www.HIVequal.com To learn more about World Health Clinicians, please visit www.worldhealthclinicians.org. For a media contact, please contact Jack Mackenroth by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 203.939.9408.