New Zealand health promoters have taken a unique approach to HIV prevention with a new campaign praising negative gay role models.
Nathan is a negative gay role model: HIV-negative is the message accompanying the first ad of the campaign, which appeared last week in Auckland’s gay newspaper Express.
The ad features 25-year-old Nathan, a Dunedin gay man whose parents support him in his efforts to remain HIV-negative.
The ad reads: Thinking about your family and the impact your having HIV would have on them, and the efforts Mum and Dad make to help keep me safe, helps reinforce my efforts to stay free of HIV.
Steve Atwood, communications coordinator with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, told Sydney Star Observer the campaign was the result of intensive research and feedback from nationwide community forums.
There are a lot of good role models out there for HIV positive men, Atwood said. Some of those role models are helpful when it comes to HIV prevention and some are not: particularly some of the role models that promote HIV as no big deal now, because you can just take a pill -¦
[But] we’re not actually role modelling staying negative. We’re not actually saying -˜this is a really good lifestyle choice’.
The images have appeared in a variety of both queer and mainstream media as part of the Foundation’s End the Silence campaign, formulated in response to a rise in HIV infections in New Zealand.
AIDS organisations including the NZAF have for a long time been assuming that gay men wanted to avoid HIV and only needed to be told how, that is, use condoms, Atwood said.
But with the new age of improved care, the stark evidence of why you would want to avoid HIV has become less visible. And so we needed to start telling men why you would want to avoid HIV and not just how.
The campaign will be accompanied by a series of reality ads detailing the negative impact of HIV for positive men, such as the side effects from HIV medication.