HIV Smart is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to education and advocacy. Collaborating with Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the group hopes to raise awareness about high risk behaviors, effective prevention strategies (including using PrEP and PEP — post-exposure prophalaxis ), the importance of knowing one’s status and the seriousness of depression among those living with HIV.
The HIV Smart photo campaign promotes awareness of HIV stigma and other challenges faced by those living with or being impacted by the virus—regardless of their status. New York’s event will be the first of many, starting in the top 5 states with the highest transmission rates (New York, Florida, California, Georgia and Texas) and continuing on to all 50 states. HIV Smart hopes each photo event will build awareness that HIV is “simply a disease and shame should never be associated with [it].”
“All people deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion,” continues the HIV Smart website. “HIV Smart also highlights how you can't tell if someone is HIV-positive or HIV-negative just by looking at them. Additionally, it's not always apparent when someone is suffering from depression brought on by stigmas and isolation so common with an HIV-positive diagnosis.”
Everyone impacted by HIV, whether they are negative or positive, is encouraged to attend; but those participating in the New York photo event must wear a blue shirt. Pictures will be available on the HIV Smart website, and participants are encouraged to employ the images to foster conversations in social media.
The event will be hosted by Barber Q, Mr. Eagle NYC 2016, and will also feature a raffle and giveaways by the leather gear company, Manskins. Free HIV testing will be provided by GMHC. The HIV Smart photo campaign will be held December 13, 2015, 5-8 PM at The Eagle NYC, located at 554 W28th (between 10th & 11th Ave.)