Tuesday, December 02, 2014

AIDS Awareness Week 2014

Activities Abound around World AIDS Day 2014 Advocates, allies and activist across Arkansas produced a series of events and recognitions around World AIDS Day 2014.  Connecting to the theme: "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS Free Generation,  the events served to remember lives lost while seeking to address the landscape thirty years into the health dilemma.  The events began with a Impact Summit featuring a roundtable discussion of area agencies, The Living Affected Corporation, Arkansas AIDS Foundation, Part of The Solution, STRILITE and was supported and underwritten by Community Connector contractor, Arkansas RAPPS.  During the session participants robustly discussed the capacity of their agencies while seeking further dialog on impending changes that will impact their stakeholders and client bases. "I had not realized much of this," said JK Hardnett, Arkansas AIDS Foundation Board member. "This opportunity to learn and understand what happen earlier in this crisis and how things could change really make me want to learn even more about this work."  Ultimately, the group crafted a micro community assessment and will seek another meet up in 60 days to continue to create next steps in capacity building including dialog around mergers. Arkansas Department of Health officials held an press conference and testing event at the Southwest Little Rock Community Center.  Dr. Nate Smith, addressed attendees citing the successes amidst challenges and barriers that still persist in Arkansas.  He stated that from his perspective, "infection rates had been steady, although there are significant issues around identifying providers in rural areas, rates in communities of color and the effects of ACA enrollment of Ryan White Clients." Highlighted during the event was Mr. Cedric Gum whom spoke to his journey after learning his status and how he has become confident as well as passionate about educating others. He concluded his address by stating that "I've had so many great folks who have supported and taught me about how I can better speak out about HIV and AIDS."  Gum also appeared in ADH's newsletter and was featured in the CDC's "HIV Treatment Works," campaign. Mr. Jessie Sierra, (pictured left) of the Health Awareness Information and Resources said, "this has been great! I am so glad to be apart of this event as well as offer my business as a resource in the effort to educate about HIV and AIDS." In Forrest City, Connie Roebuck of The Roebuck Project produced her 6th annual World AIDS Day event with over 100 in attendance throughout the evening. The energy filled Roebuck, most commonly known as "Connie,, The Condom Lady," thanked participants and at times was over come with emotion.  "I was so glad at the turn out. At times I wasn't sure if it was going to happen." she said " I had some setbacks in ticket sales, but I kept asking local vendors for donations, prizes and any support they could give. I am proud to have made it happen."  Guest speaker Raven Gray(pictured right) spoke to a captive audience as she shared her struggles and disappointments after learning her diagnosis.  "I think we should talk about HIV and not be a shame to discuss it or post about it," Gray said. Gary was supported by "Team Raven," of the Arkansas AIDS Foundation who wore designed signature T-Shirts and joined in an impromptu "vogue" photo shoot at the conclusion of the program. The event also featured Free HIV testing support provided by Delta Alliance of Lake Village and area vendors such as JCCSI, ATEC and Arkansas Minority Health Commission.  New Social Media Campaign: The HIV Shower Selfie Challenge Raises Awareness and Funds Towards Ending AIDS

Soapy, Sexy Shower Selfies With The Hashtag #weareALLclean Brings Attention to HIV Stigma

Could this be the HIV equivalent to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? We think so. The concept is the brainchild of well-known HIV activist, Jack Mackenroth who has partnered with Moovz, the leading global gay social app, to launch the project. It’s genius in its simplicity. We are now a selfie-obsessed culture and Mackenroth urges everyone to take a special selfie for an important cause.

“I was inspired by the use of the word ‘clean’, especially common in gay culture, to describe oneself as STI/STD free. Indirectly this implies that HIV-positive people are somehow ‘dirty'", says Mackenroth. “I thought a PG or PG-13 shower selfie or Vine video would be a fun way that everyone could easily show their support on social media for finding a cure by using the hashtag #weareALLclean when they post their photo with the link. They then nominate 3 other people to participate and hopefully donate to the project as well.” Locally the campaign has gotten support from LinQ for Life and other individuals committed to "washing away" stigma. Including COP 24/7 Executive Editor C. Mabin whom answered the challenges to join colleagues and activist in the effort.  More pictures can be seen on the COP 24/7 facebook page.

The goal of the campaign is to raise 1 million dollars to stop the epidemic and help find a cure and the campaign will be ongoing indefinitely. Donate here. All donations received will be donated to Housing Works, a New York-based nonprofit organization fighting on the front lines to end AIDS and homelessness, not just in New York but globally by 2030. The CDC estimates that there are currently 1.2 million people in the US living with HIV and over 35 million people around the world.

“As someone who has been living with HIV for 25 years this is very personal to me.” Mackenroth adds, “There is current urgency for funding as we have new treatments that maintain viral suppression and render HIV-positive individuals virtually non-transmissible. Those same treatments can be given to HIV-negative individuals and protect them from infection. Essentially we already have the tools to stop the epidemic from spreading. Exciting new research is bringing us closer to a real cure for AIDS every day. ”

Housing Works President & CEO Charles King, recently appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as Co-Chair of the New York State Task Force to end AIDS by 2020, adds “My hope is that this campaign inspires conversation, action and a reinvigorated commitment to end AIDS.”
The campaign will launch within Moovz because of the app's high user engagement rates and it's history of successful international LGBT social media campaigns. Mackenroth is known as a social media powerhouse in his own right but he is also enlisting many of his “social media superstar” friends to get the campaign off the ground.

Actor, model, singer and social media stud, Chris Salvatore is igniting the campaign from Los Angeles after joining forces with Moovz as well. "It's time to erase the stigma and unite as a global community. Regardless of your gender or sexual identity---no matter what age, color, size or shape you are, you should be part of this project! Let's all be one loud, united voice in support of awareness, education, treatment and research for a cure.” says Salvatore. "And have fun with it. Be funny, sexy or silly. Who doesn’t want to see people in the shower soaping up for a good cause?”

 “I truly hope this campaign goes viral—no pun intended.” Mackenroth quips.
The campaign is ongoing until the goal is reached. The hope is that there will be traction in the following weeks so that people know about the campaign on World AIDS Day and change their profile photos to show support.

1) Take a  selfie or Vine video of yourself in the shower.** NO EXPLICIT NUDITY**
2) Post your photo on Moovz and all social media platforms with the caption "Take HIV Shower Selfie Challenge raise $$ for AIDS cure bit.ly/CUREAIDS #weareALLclean"
3) Challenge 3 or more other people to participate!
4) (Optional) DONATE!! Please consider a small donation if you are able. Every penny counts! bit.ly/CUREAIDS
Are you in care or need information about how to link to care? Get into care through the Affordable Care Act. Call 501-379-8203 for more information. 

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