Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

Rise Up to HIV: There is No Shame About Being HIV+; Join the Campaign

by Kevin Maloney

This campaign was inspired by an image of Chelsea Clinton holding a sign for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. My vision for this campaign is to mobilize people across the United States and the World willing to Rise Up to HIV and stand up in an effort to reduce stigma. Participants are empowered by this simple act utilizing a simple statement with their personal story and picture. In turn, these stories inspire hope and empower others to fight stigma. This campaign identifies and mobilizes individuals making a difference in their communities. It’s been know that when you are engaged in your own care, you’ll engage others, which will in-turn create healthier communities. This is not the first Anti-Stigma campaign, and certainly won’t be the last. I have seen some amazing campaigns doing good things in communities across the country and across the web since finding out my diagnosis of HIV and Hepatitis C nearly 3 years ago. In my opinion not enough awareness and education campaigns can exist to tackle this issue.

As stated, the purpose of this campaign is to create an overall healthier HIV/AIDS community by reducing stigma through the mobilization and engagement of individuals in communities across the World to Rise Up To HIV by proclaiming there is No Shame About Being HIV Positive. How is this being accomplished? Through the power of social media, and through an army of caring and compassionate individuals, either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS who choose to take part in this campaign. Organizations are strongly encouraged to become involved in this campaign.

I will keep this campaign going for as long as possible, helping eradicate stigma one picture, one story at a time. This campaign will carry on, evolve, grow, and will help in bringing an end to this epidemic. We know that stigma adds fuel to this epidemic, and I will keep on going until we see the end of HIV/AIDS. In the end all the participants will have helped make this campaign the success I feel it will be. This sign campaign is the first phase of a multi-phase approach. Details will be forthcoming in the coming weeks/months.

We hear the word Stigma thrown around A LOT, but do we all know what it is? AIDS-related stigma refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, an erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on the success of HIV testing and treatment.

Are you currently facing stigma? Well know this! You Matter, your life matters, and you are filled with purpose! You are no less of a person because you have HIV, and if treated, and adherent to your medication you can live a very normal and productive life (like many you see in the photos in this campaign). You can still dream big, and live out those dreams: your dreams are not infected. Don’t let HIV take away your power, instead become empowered and Rise Up To HIV.

How to Join the Campaign

To join the campaign on:

1) Facebook: simply tag or message Rise Up to HIV with your photo and add a sentence or two about yourself, or a longer bio if you have one, or add links to your blogs, videos, etc.. that you would like for us to feature. Visit the event page to see who else is participating, and you may visit the Facebook album of folks who have already submitted a photo.

2) On Twitter: You can tweet an image and sentence to @RiseUpToHIV and use the hash tag #TeamNoShame.

3) If you are not on Facebook or on twitter you can mail your photo to noshame@riseuptohiv.org and I will be sure to place it in the album here.

I realize that not everyone is able to be public about their HIV status . I have received many messages stating as such, and many words of encouragement: their support is equally precious. My reassurance to those who live in a state of fear and repression is a promise: We will keep on keeping on until EVERYONE will be free to be able to openly declare that there is No Shame about Being HIV+.

We need to get people talking about HIV/AIDS again – in schools, at the dinner table, in the car, on the radio, TV, and all throughout social media and with foot soldiers on the ground. We need all hands on deck if we are going to finally realize the end of this epidemic.

There is no greater feeling or power then to be able to stand up to your fears, to not be held hostage by your diagnosis, to be amongst people who understand, to be knowledgeable or gain greater understanding of something you may have thought you had no control over, but you do. Rise up to HIV and help end the stigma! Be part of #TeamNoShame

Thank you for your participation in this campaign!

Kevin Maloney

“Voices in unity strengthening community”

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A supporter of this campaign is Community Access National Network. A national 501c3 dedicated since 1996 to improving access to care and treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

If you would like to be an additional supporter or you are part of the media contact Kevin Maloney at 202-290-2019 or via email at kevin@riseuptohiv.org.

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