"HIV Equal" Hosts Testing Event at Hartford G&L Health Collective
On Saturday, April 19 from noon to 5 p.m., the World Health Clinicians’ Anti-Stigma and HIV Testing Initiative "HIV Equal" will host a day-long testing event and photo shoot in the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective as part of its national testing and anti-stigma initiative. The community is welcome to join.
"We’re excited to be joining with another local organization that helps to reach the LGBTQ Community here in Connecticut," said Dr. Gary Blick, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of World Health Clinicians. "Through HIV Equal, we hope to continue utilizing social media to increase awareness of HIV and HIV testing. Our message is simple: Get tested. Know your status."
Blick said that nearly 1.2 million Americans are estimated to be living with the virus. And the most affected and at-risk community are men aged 13-34. Data from 2010 cites states that over 90 percent of new HIV infections are found in men who fall within that age demographic.
The HIV Equal testing and anti-stigma photo campaign illustrates that everyone is equally valuable regardless of their HIV status. It recently returned from events in Los Angeles, New York and Norwalk where it earned the support of celebrities, models, athletes and notable politicians, which have all helped to garner greater visibility in affected communities in each city and across the U.S.
Some of the names attached to the campaign include U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT), West Hollywood Council Member John Duran, voiceover actor Ben Patrick Johnson, actress Amy Paffrath, YouTube sensation and "American Idol" finalist Todrick Hall, Tony-award winner Billy Porter, Broadway star Nick Adams and Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, among many others.
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 test is confidential and involves a quick mouth swab with results in 20 minutes. In the event that an individual does test ’reactive’ for HIV antibodies, on-hand staff is prepared with the necessary counseling and linkage to care.
WHC understands both the human and the financial cost of HIV/AIDS, and has developed HIV Equal through a social media strategy of visibility to encourage people across the U.S., and across the globe, to get tested and to know their HIV status. It will continue to push for greater visibility through its own social media outlets, including Facebook.
Teaming up with the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective’s HIV Prevention Team was a natural fit, as the group is very proactive in the New England are. On April 9, the Connecticut Dept. of Public Health (DPH) honored them for their outstanding work. According to Mary Ann Bocelli of the DPH, the team’s strategy of outreach, testing and linkage resulted in detecting eight positive cases -- a record number in the state.
Join them on Tuesday, April 22 at the State Capitol in Hartford for AIDS Awareness Day. Meet on the North Steps at 10 a.m. for registration, followed by a rally at 11 a.m. Box lunches will be provided at noon, to help attendees stay powered up for afternoon meetings with their legislators. Wear a red T-shirt and be ready to make a difference. For information, visit www.aids-ct.org or contact Shawn Lang at 860-247-2437 x319.
The World Health Clinicians’ Anti-Stigma and HIV Testing Initiative "HIV Equal" event will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 19 at the HGLHC offices, 1841 Broad Street, Hartford, CT. For more information, visit www.hglhc.org.