HIV Smart is a newly formed nonprofit organization partnered with GMHC and geared specifically to fighting HIV stigma, raising awareness, promoting education around prevention (such as PrEP and PEP medications) and risk behaviors, advocating testing and the importance of knowing your status, and most importantly the seriousness of depression among HIV-positive people.
The heart of the HIV Smart campaign is a photo campaign promoting nationwide awareness of HIV stigma and challenges associated with the virus (with a corresponding website) for all people regardless of their status. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. HIV Smart also highlights how you can't tell if someone is HIV-positive or HIV-negative just by looking at them. Additionally, it's not always apparent when someone is suffering from depression brought on by stigmas and isolation so common with an HIV-positive diagnosis.
Our goals are to create multiple photo events starting in the top 5 states with the current highest transmission rates (NY, Florida, California, Georgia and Texas)
and continue on to all 50 states. Each photo event will create more public awareness that it's just a disease like any other and those who are HIV-positive should not be shamed or treated like they are any less than those who are HIV negative.
Our hope is to empower people to use these pictures on social media to show support and foster public discussion to rid our society of this ugly social stigma.
All donations to the HIV Smart campaign will be used to provide HIV testing and counseling at the photo events, ensuring proper education and statistics, connecting people to resources for mental and medical health, advice as well as setting up and maintaining a robust helpful companion website, any necessary fees with setting up venues, equipment transportation and personnel to run the events properly.
We've already started the grassroots portion of this campaign with mini photo events and establishing some of our first HIV Smart photo events to come in NYC, DC and Maryland.
Help us make a difference in people's lives - where people are bullied or told how disgusting and worthless they are for simply having a disease that does not discriminate. No one should ever be told that or made to feel that way.
Let us provide some hope and real tangible help to anyone who feels lost, alone and wracked with depression; who doesn't know where to go for help and just wants to give up. We need to let them know they have help, support, and options.