GMHC Launches Two New HIV Awareness Campaigns

New York -- Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) hosted a press conference this morning to launch two new public-service advertising campaigns to raise awareness about HIV for women of color and young men of color who have sex with men.

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"These provocative new campaigns address rising HIV infection rates in two of the groups most directly impacted by focusing on the strength and resiliency of people of color within their communities," said Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "They speak to individuals and communities in a language of love, respect, acceptance and sexual health -- highlighting what is possible in intimate relationships instead of focusing on problems with negotiating safer sex and getting tested for HIV."

The HIV: We're Not Taking it Lying Down campaign has a multi-layered message which speaks to the empowerment of women while recognizing the realities of women's lives, including trauma, stigma and injustice. Promoting safer sex that is consensual and in one's control subscribes to the idea that women don't have to "take it lying down." Testing for HIV on a regular basis is another way of taking control.

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The I Love My Boo campaign addresses young men of color by recognizing their relationships without shame. The campaign shows everyday images of young men embracing, kissing, and expressing their love for each other in public spaces. By emphasizing trust, respect and commitment, it shows that with love and self-love come responsibility -- the basis for safer sex and HIV prevention.

According to recent data from the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, the total number of new HIV diagnoses in NYC decreased by 5% between 2005 and 2006. During the same time period, new HIV diagnoses increased by 6% in two key groups:

  • Males aged 13-29, especially black or Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM). Young males also showed a 33% increase in HIV infections since 2001.
  • Females ages 13-29, 90% of whom were black or Hispanic

Other recent reports from the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention indicate:

  • An 80% increase in HIV infections among young African American MSM.
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls in the US has been infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs); nearly half of the African-Americans girls in the study were infected.
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"We hope these campaigns bring messages of HIV education through empowerment to the communities where individuals at highest risk live and socialize," added Dr. Hill. "We want to continue the dialogue at a community level, and involve families, friends, neighbors, community leaders and elected officials in creating support and fostering HIV prevention."

Billboards and panels on phone kiosks have been posted in locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, with a focus on neighborhoods and zip codes where HIV infections are disproportionately high among women and young men of color. To view the campaigns, please click on the links below:

· HIV: We're Not Taking it Lying Down
· I Love My Boo