Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "Cornelius responds to: Health Department's Latest HIV Awareness Campaign"

Cornelius responds to:
Health Department's
Latest HIV Awareness Campaign

Is a scare tactic the healthiest way to gain the attention of young gay men who have sex with men? I understand the issues and the importance around HIV testing, knowing your status, and taking care of your health by talking to your doctor as if he or she is your best friend.

I am also aware of certain conversations around HIV and a sense complacency around the disease that is currently taking place in the MSM communities. However is a scare/fear-based tactic the healthiest way to combat the disease? Or might I say, is the message too strong and daunting? Does it make one feel more comfortable in seeking help and testing?

SIDE NOTE: I am currently featured in an HIV Awareness PSA ("I Am Living My Truth") which is running on the LOGO network. The campaign is sponsored by Logo and Gilead. For me, this campaign represents a sense of hope, inspiration, and is very encouraging for people (like myself) who are living with an HIV positive diagnosis and for those who are considering testing but may be scared or uneducated on the disease and life after the diagnosis. I personally support hope... A message of hope is what I witnessed, some years ago, and it is what motivated me in getting tested and living beyond my diagnosis.

The recent increase of HIV infection among young African-American and Hispanic men in NYC has sent some health officials into a state of panic. So, maybe this is the only option that health officials feel, will awaken the young African-American and Hispanic MSM community.

Here is the story:

Health Department Takes Its Latest HIV Awareness Campaign to the Subway

Agency’s new subway posters show how HIV can lead to other serious diseases

February 8, 2011 – – The Health Department this week debuts the subway ad component of its latest HIV prevention campaign, “It’s Never Just HIV.” Reinforcing thecampaign video spot released in December, the posters speak directly to those currently at greatest risk to become infected – men who have sex with men – in an effort to combat complacency about HIV while promoting condom use. The ads serve as a stark reminder that when you are infected with HIV, it’s never just HIV; the infection has lifelong consequences that can range from dementia to bone loss and cancer even though treatment can control the virus and save lives. To continue the conversation sparked by the campaign’s original TV spots, the Department also released anInternet video in which Dr. Monica Sweeney, the agency’s assistant commissioner for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, discusses the rationale behind the new ads as well as the urgent need for their message to be heard. The ads and the video can be viewed at

“We are very concerned with rising rates of new HIV infections in young men who have sex with men, particularly those who are African-American and Hispanic,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “More than half, 57%, of all new HIV diagnoses in New York City were among black and Hispanic men in 2009. These messages are designed to remind young men that, even with the tremendous progress that has been made in treatment for this disease, it is still dangerous and the best way to stay HIV-free is to use condoms consistently.”

HIV infection is no longer the death sentence it once was. By starting medication early and adhering to it carefully, HIV-positive people can live longer lives and reduce the risk of infecting others. Although treatment can suppress the virus and prevent the destruction of the immune system, growing evidence suggests that damage done in the early stages of infection can have lasting effects – even among people who get treatment. The conditions depicted in the new ads– bone loss, dementia and anal cancer – are just three of many that HIV can lead to.

In 2009, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 43% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in New York City– more than any group – and they experienced more than half of new diagnoses (57%) among men. In the agency’s new Internet video, Dr. Sweeney explains, “Some 4,000 New Yorkers are newly infected every year. And the rate of new diagnoses is rising among young gay and bisexual men. In fact, the number of men who have sex with men under age 30 who are newly reported with HIV has risen by 50% over the last several years. This increase in new HIV infections 30 years into the epidemic is unacceptable to me and should be unacceptable to all of us. We have to respond strongly to prevent a new generation from getting this incurable infection.”

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