While the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in America has been drastically reduced since the disease’s onslaught in the 1980s, new infections are still common in a number of historically underserved groups, including young people and LGBT people of color. In an effort to address such disparities, Fenway Health and the AIDS Action Committee have partnered with the Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC) to launch the #StayWoke Get Tested campaign, an HIV/STI testing call to action to encourage greater testing across Massachusetts.
This campaign of yourhealthboston.org is part of a statewide effort among AIDS advocacy organizations to “get to zero” – that is, zero new HIV infections and zero stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Gay men still make up more than half of new HIV infections; the CDC is reporting that black gay men will account for one in two new infections in their lifetime if nothing is done to curb the statistics,” said Dwayne Steward, Manager of Community Engagement and Prevention at The Fenway Institute. “The #StayWoke Get Tested campaign is a new battle cry from three organizations that are committed to getting to zero new HIV infections in Massachusetts. Fenway Health, AIDS Action Committee and the Multicultural AIDS Coalition have partnered and created one team that is offering HIV and STI testing along with health care navigation and better access to PrEP.”
The #StayWoke Get Tested campaign combines the concept of remaining socially aware, or “woke” – an ideology that is very much connected to the Black Lives Matter movement – with traditional HIV and STI prevention messaging. The campaign hopes to spread awareness of the importance of regular HIV/STI testing and to demonstrate that taking care of your sexual health is also a way to fight systemic oppression. Encouraging people – especially LGBT people of color – to take charge of their sexual health through regular testing is a powerful step toward ending the health disparities widely experienced by sexual and racial minorities.
The talented Joshua Davis, a former MAC employee, created campaign images connecting to the Civil Rights Movement, beginning with an ad invoking an iconic photo of Malcolm X. The campaign will expand to include members of the community, including Chastity Bowick, a member of AIDS Action’s prevention team.
“This new way of addressing HIV and STI prevention allows us to work one-on-one with clients on a regular basis and personally connect them with their health needs. Reaching marginalized communities and addressing health disparity is the focus of this campaign; our effectiveness in achieving this goal, here and abroad, will help us get to zero in our state and across the nation,” Steward said.
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