August 3, 2011
My entry in the 2011 "Fight HIV Your Way" contest, sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb and its first-line protease inhibitor Reyataz, has been selected as one of 25 national third prize winners. I entered the contest this past February to help raise awareness about HIV testing issues in general and specifically the need for routine opt-out HIV testing here in Massachusetts, which now holds the dubious distinction of being the only state in the United States where Written Informed Consent testing is the only means to be screened for the HIV virus.
The contest was judged by Judith Jamison (artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre), Frank Oldham, Jr. (President and CEO of the National Association of People With AIDS), and Regan Hoffman (Editor-in-Chief of POZ magazine); my entry included a photograph depicting how I fight HIV my way and a one hundred word essay describing that fight.
Entries were treated as a single work and judged as a whole using these criteria: impact of visual and verbal expression of how to fight HIV (50%), creativity/originality (30%) and overall quality of the entry (20%). Here's a hybrid PDF version of my entry for your edification. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will choreograph a new dance inspired by the entries of the 10 first-place winners and perform the piece throughout the United States during their 2011-2012 season. While I did not win first place, I am deeply humbled that my entry was highlighted at all, let alone selected as one of 50 national winners, and profoundly grateful that the issue of routine opt-out HIV testing in Massachusetts will be elevated as a result.
I would like to thank Ilene Perlman for shooting the image that so nicely captures my activist ways, Tess Mattern for art direction on the cold winter afternoon of the shoot, Sara Arrand and Mia Saunders for image selection assistance and spiritual guidance with my written words, and my husband Paul Dixon for the use of his super-sized Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and for his unwavering love and continued support.
As an acknowledgement of the time, effort, and creative energy I placed in the entry, my photograph and essay may be displayed online at www.fighthivyourway.com and in print/promotional materials and may be featured as well in a documentary and a limited-edition book commemorating the contest. Much will be revealed along these lines in the coming months, and I'll keep you apprised on these developments as needs be.
But for now, it's back to the activist endeavors that have brought me to this juncture. I encourage you to join me in making routine opt-out HIV testing the law in Massachusetts.