"HIV is not killing people but stigma is and this is what needs to change," Schmid said in a statement. "We need to talk more about HIV and its advancements, about what U=U means, and we should not be stigmatized by society."
"We need to have more information on mainstream media about how you contract HIV, prevention and treatments available so that people stop stigmatizing those that are positive and realize that anyone can have HIV and live a completely normal and healthy life."
Due to medical advancements, HIV is no longer a death sentence. And health education programs like Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) stress that those who suppress the virus with treatment cannot spread the it to others.
Despite these gains, 6 in 10 Americans believe that “it is important to be careful around people living with HIV to avoid catching it," according to a new study from GLAAD and Gilead. Additionally, almost 9 in 10 Americans believe “there is still stigma around HIV."
In his latest campaign, which comes out in advance of World AIDS Day, Schmid wants others to share their own stories of dealing with stigma by posting them on social media with the hashtag #FSTIGMA along with @pluslifemedia. A mask bearing the campaign's name is also available.