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Speak Out: Let’s Bring HIV Out Of The Closet

New Campaign From Greater Than AIDS Developed Locally With The San Francisco Department Of Public Health To Engage Gay And Bisexual Men In Response To HIV/AIDS

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., October 4, 2013 – Greater Than AIDS, a leading national public information response to the domestic epidemic, today launched Speak Out, a new campaign developed locally with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to engage gay and bisexual men in response to HIV/AIDS and confront the silence and stigma that too often surrounds the disease. An overarching theme of the cross-platform campaign is to encourage more open communication about HIV in relationships, with health care providers and within the community generally.

In a provocative series of outdoor ads that begin appearing around the city this month, including a media “take over” of the Castro MUNI station, a diverse group of gay men, both positive and negative, open up about HIV in the gay community and why it continues to be so hard to talk about. With the tagline, “What You Say Matters,” the men’s unvarnished comments bring attention to the stigma and silence that too often still surrounds HIV.

In “Let’s Bring HIV Out of the Closet,” an online signature video (0:06 minute) produced for the campaign, the men open up about how HIV has affected their lives and those around them. In this intimate and candid conversation, the men talk about the growing silence about HIV, the stigma that exists within the gay community around the disease and what needs to happen to address it. The video is being distributed on the web and through social media and promoted through other elements of the campaign.

“Speak Out is about bringing the energy and momentum of the gay movement to bear once again on HIV/AIDS,” said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director of Health Communications and Media Partnership, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. “More than 30 years since the epidemic began gay and bisexual men continue to be among those most affected by HIV. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Through targeted media messages and complementary community outreach, Speak Out encourages more open communication about HIV in all aspects of life, including:

  • SPEAK OUT For Our Relationships. Talking with friends and lovers about HIV, including using protection, getting tested together, and discussing HIV status.
  • SPEAK OUT For Our Health. Asking to be tested, talking about treatment options and seeking support when needed.
  • SPEAK OUT For Our Community. Confronting stigma and addressing misconceptions through open communication with the people in our lives.

“Speak Out is an opportunity to engage the Gay community to speak out around knowing their status, the importance of getting tested at least every six months, and getting into care and treatment”. It is about finding our voice again in our community to ensure that we all find an healthy way to take care of ourselves,” Vincent Fuqua, Health Program Coordinator, SFDPH, Community Health Equity and Promotion.

Nationally, gay and bisexual men account for the majority (56%) of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV today in the U.S., and two thirds (66%) of new HIV infections. In San Francisco, gay and bisexual men account for an even greater share of the local epidemic, representing 88% of all persons living with HIV in the city and 82% of new infections.

Whether HIV positive or negative, the campaign stresses the role of the community as a whole in addressing HIV/AIDS, including promoting increased routine testing for gay men as recommended by the San Francisco Department of Health and linkage to care and treatment.

SF>AIDS. While San Francisco is leading the nation on many indicators, the overall rate of new infections among gay and bisexual men (referred to as men who have sex with men or MSM) is still very high and HIV remains a serious threat for MSM in the city. As of 2011, overall HIV prevalence among the share of MSM who do not inject drugs is estimated at more than one in five (22.7%).

Testing rates have been increasing in San Francisco according to recent data, yet still many MSM in the city are not being tested as routinely as recommended (every 3-6 months). According to a 2011 survey, 40% of sexually active MSM who were not already diagnosed as HIV positive in San Francisco had not been tested in the previous 6 months. Also of concern is the share of men who are HIV positive who are not in care and on treatment following diagnosis. Only half of HIV cases reported in San Francisco between 2008 and 2010 had viral suppression within one year of diagnosis.

For more information about Greater Than AIDS and the Speak Out campaign, visit: www.greaterthan.org/speakout.

About Greater Than AIDS

Greater Than AIDS is a leading national public information response focused on the U.S. domestic epidemic. Launched in 2009, it is supported by a broad coalition of public and private sector partners, including: major media and other business leaders; Federal, state and local health agencies and departments; national leadership groups; AIDS service and other community organizations; and foundations, among others.

Through targeted media messages and community outreach, Greater Than AIDS works to increase knowledge, reduce stigma and promote actions to stem the spread of the disease. While national in scope, Greater Than AIDS focuses on communities most affected

The Kaiser Family Foundation – a leader in health policy and communication – provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the campaigns. The Black AIDS Institute – a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America – provides leadership and expert guidance and supports community engagement. Additional financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS, among others.