A compelling new campaign launched today that seeks to bring visibility to and humanize the experiences of those living with HIV.
Called "My Status Is Not A Secret," the campaign is spearheaded by Column Five Media and not only encourages people to get tested, but seeks to break down the stigma of sharing one's HIV status -- whether positive or negative -- through a series of personal interviews.
In an effort to better understand the nature of the "My Status Is Not A Secret" campaign and what the initiative is trying to accomplish, The Huffington Post chatted with the Senior Producer for Column Five, Ian Klein.
How does this project seek to humanize the experience of those affected by and living with HIV?
Ian Klein: A lot of dialogue surrounding HIV can be very clinical, focused on data tied to infection rates and the percentage risk of transmission. While those numbers are important to building a comprehensive picture of HIV, the stories of those faced with HIV in some way are equally powerful. Through interviews with a diverse group of participants of various ages, genders, races, sexual orientations and HIV status, the project demonstrates HIV's broad impact; even more impressive was how honest, articulate, and engaging those participants were. We think the interviews and other stories submitted through the site makes it easy for visitors to recognize themselves or loved ones and root for them on a deeper emotional level.
Why is this project important?
This project is important because people, whether infected with or affected by HIV, as we all ultimately are, can learn a great deal through personal testimony, whether that be about the process of getting tested, effectively managing the disease, or preventing infection in the first place. Walking the line between normalizing HIV and encouraging less infection, is certainly tricky, but the importance of both is wildly important to overcoming this crisis.
What do you hope you hope to accomplish with this project?
We hope to foster compassion and questions that will result in greater understanding of HIV. Even in gay communities, a lack of shared knowledge about HIV is still very much a reality, which results in pervasive stigma. This project aims to help eradicate stigma and enlighten minds. Each one of us, whether HIV positive or negative, gay or straight, has something to gain from hearing someone else's experience with the disease. We hope HIV positive viewers will find it easier to seek support and those who are negative will be more interested in offering it.
Check out the video above for a look at some of the campaign's personal interviews and head here for more information about "My Status Is Not A Secret."