The campaign invites participants – both HIV-positive and HIV-negative – to purchase and wear a T-shirt embossed with the label “HIV POSITIVE” and then to share their experiences via Facebook.
“HIV and Aids-related stigma is one of the primary barriers to curbing the spread of HIV,” said AFC President/CEO David Ernesto Munar.
“People are afraid to get tested, know their status and seek treatment for fear of what might happen if others find out they are HIV-positive.”
Approximately 1,1 million Americans live with HIV – 46 000 in Illinois and 30 000 in Chicago.Twenty-one percent of Americans with HIV do not know they are infected.And an estimated 56 000 Americans become infected with HIV annually – that’s one every 9-1/2 minutes.
T-shirts are $12 each or two for $20 and may be purchased at www.aidschicago.org/ilasap.Proceeds will go to the Illinois Alliance for Sound Aids Policy, a network of Aids advocates from across the state who are leading the fight against the epidemic.
After purchasing a T-shirt, campaign participants are encouraged to upload pictures, video and details of their experience on the campaign’s Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/tshirtcampaign.
The campaign was inspired by IL ASAP member Arick Buckles, who saw the effects of stigma first-hand in his work as a community outreach worker.
“My job is to connect with people who are HIV-positive, but have neglected to start treatment,” Buckles explained.
“I was touched by the fact that these people were so affected by stigma that they would choose to be sick, debilitated or die rather than interact with HIV-service providers and somehow have their HIV status revealed to their community.
“It’s insane, and I knew I had to do something about it.”
Meanwhile The Citizen Chief Reporter, Lucas Liganga writes from Dar es Salaam that the the United Nations this week hailed Tanzania for playing a frontline role in the fight against HIV and Aids.
The UN called on Tanzania to push HIV and Aids concerns up the political agenda and integrate it in broader health and development programmes.
The UN deputy secretary general, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, told a news conference in Dar es Salaam at the end of her two-day tour of Tanzania that the UN appreciated President Jakaya Kikwete’s personal commitment to enhancing the fight against HIV and Aids.
She said President Kikwete was already playing a leading role in global health by co-chairing the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.
“This is a milestone year in our global battle against the disease,” said Dr Migiro, adding: “Three decades ago, Aids was a death sentence . . . Today, we have the means to prevent transmission, offer treatment and research a vaccine.”
The UN deputy secretary general said the challenge now was to make sure that all people were covered.