“Speak Out” Campaign Brings HIV Out of the Closet

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PHOTO BY GABRIEL GOLDBERG

A new campaign entitled Speak Out launched this month with a series of outdoor ads and targeted messages, including a “media take over” of the Castro MUNI station, with the Bay Times in attendance. Posters and panels installed in the station present a diverse group of gay men who are speaking out about HIV in the gay community.

Designed to combat the silence and stigma that often surrounds HIV, the campaign’s goal is shared in the title of a new online video: “Let’s Bring HIV Out of the Closet.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r6kqvLP9Lc&feature=youtu.be)

“Speak Out is about bringing the energy and momentum of the gay movement to bear once again on HIV/AIDS,” said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director of Health Communications and Media Partnership, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.
“More than 30 years since the epidemic began, gay and bisexual men continue to be among those most affected by HIV. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Through targeted media messages and complementary community outreach, Speak Out encourages more open communication about HIV in all aspects of life, including:

SPEAK OUT for Our Relationships

Talking with friends and lovers about HIV, including using protection, getting tested together, and discussing HIV status.

SPEAK OUT for Our Health

Asking to be tested, talking about treatment options and seeking support when needed.

SPEAK OUT for Our Community

Confronting stigma and addressing misconceptions through open communication with the people in our lives.

Nationally, gay and bisexual men account for the majority (56%) of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV today in the U.S., and two thirds (66%) of new HIV infections. In San Francisco, gay and bisexual men account for an even greater share of the local epidemic, representing 88% of all persons living with HIV in the city and 82% of new infections.

The campaign stresses the role of the community as a whole in addressing HIV/AIDS, including promoting increased routine testing for gay men as recommended by the San Francisco Department of Health and linkage to care and treatment.