Forty years after the first case of HIV was reported in the United States, stigma around HIV/AIDS continues to impact the community.
Now, a new campaign from NSW’s leading HIV organisation ACON and led by people living with HIV (PLHIV) is aiming to change the conversation.
The campaign, It’s Time to Think Positive About HIV, “seeks to highlight ways HIV stigma experienced by PLHIV can be addressed through embracing positive behavioural and attitudinal change.”
The campaign features a video “that centres personal stories of people living with HIV and the HIV negative allies in their lives.”
“The first in a series of community engagements we will be having on this issue, It’s Time to Think Positive About HIV is ACON’s new campaign addressing HIV stigma, showcasing the very best of allyship between HIV-negative people and people living with HIV,” ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said.
“The campaign will add to efforts being made towards changing how we all see HIV, and how stigma can be overcome and resolved through positive framing. Instead of demonstrating the harms of HIV stigma, this evocative campaign shows how to best support people living with HIV with uplifting messages that bridge the serodivide.”
According to Karl Johnson, Manager of ACON’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health Programs, the objective was to make the call to tackle stigma universal.
“How do you make an HIV stigma campaign that speaks to the lived experience of HIV? Put people living with HIV at the centre of the work,” said Johnson.
“We are extremely proud of the way PLHIV shaped and informed this campaign every step of the way. Centring our community and utilising our experiences to create a tangible and relatable message that encourages both positive and negative people to rethink HIV stigma is not only essential, it’s best practice.”
The focus of the campaign was to balance the responsibility of shouldering the burden of tackling stigma away from PLHIV with the larger community, especially HIV negative allies.
“People living with HIV have essentially been tasked with fighting stigma themselves, by educating the wider community as well as protecting their peers by adhering to treatments. We are one community and it’s time we shared the responsibility and work together to eliminate stigma: a significant barrier to ending HIV,” said Anthony, one of the participants in the campaign video.
The new campaign is aligned with the new NSW HIV strategy 2021-2025 which calls on ending HIV stigma in aid of supporting PLHIV and preventing transmission.
“The strategy’s inclusion of people living with HIV as essential to the development of HIV prevention measures is critical to our collective goals of eliminating transmission,” Parkhill added.