Friday, February 17th, 2012. New York City – Last week I saw these ads at a train station, I thought they were great. Today I went to cover a protest against HASA policies and I had to make a transfer at the same subway station. Sadly, the ads have been vandalized. Apparently, a religious person or a group of religious people hate gay and bisexual men and they covered the face of the models with a paper that says, “Lord Have Mercy”.
The ads have images of “gay and bisexual men.”
One of the ads says, “Testing makes us stronger. Our HIV status is powerful information. It helps us take better care of each other. Get tested.”
Another ad says, “Testing makes us stronger. We are responsible for our bodies and the choices we make. We fight HIV by speaking up and knowing our status. Get tested
Find free, fast and confidential testing near you: www.HIVtest.org/stronger”
The ads are sponsored by the CDC, ACTagainstAIDS and NYCHealth
Estos anuncios en una estación del tren en la ciudad de Nueva York fueron vandalizados. Aparentemente por que los modelos representan hombres gay y bisexuales. Alguién o un grupo de personas puso un papel en sus rostros con la frase, “Señor ten piedad”.
Los anuncios motivan a los hombres homosexuales y bisexuales que se realicen la prueba del VIH, ya que son el grupo mas afectado por la epidemia en los Estados Unidos de America.
De acuerdo al sitio de internet en los anuncios www.HIVtest.org/stronger, “Estudios en las ciudades mas grandes han encontrado, que en esas ciudades, casi uno en tres hombres gay y bisexuales de la raza negra estan infectados con VIH, y la mayoría (59%) ni siquiera lo saben por que nunca se han realizado la prueba o no se han realizado pruebas constantemente.
Entre 2006 y 2009, nuevas infecciones en hombres jovenes gay y bisexuales de la raza negra aumento en un 48%.”
According to the website, “Gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV in the U.S. Black gay and bisexual men are getting hit particularly hard by the epidemic. Studies in major cities have found that, in those cities, nearly one in three black gay and bisexual men is infected with HIV, and the majority (59%) don’t even know it because they’ve never been tested or aren’t testing enough.
From 2006 to 2009, new infections in young black gay and bisexual men (ages 13-29) increased by 48 percent.
Research shows that black gay and bisexual men are not doing anything to put themselves at greater risk than other gay men; in fact, many report fewer sex partners and less drug use, which are lower risk behaviors.
We also know that lack of access to health care, unemployment, racism, depression, stigma and having older sex partners (who are more likely to be infected with HIV) are additional factors that may contribute to gay and bisexual men being more likely to get this disease.
Knowledge is power! Knowing your status is a source of strength, not a reason for fear. When you know your status, you can take care of yourself, and you are less likely to give the virus to others. Research has shown that if people know they have HIV, they often take steps to protect their partners.
Getting tested for HIV will make you stronger because you will have the information you need to make good decisions about your sexual health and your future.”
I think, one of the reasons, people don’t want to take the HIV test is because in some parts of the country, if you are HIV positive, you are a “criminal.” Queerty reports that so far, 34 states and two U.S. territories currently have varying statutes that can penalize HIV+ people for potentially exposing others to the disease. In the state of Iowa, an HIV+ person can get charged with assault and attempted murder for having consensual sex. In Michigan, Daniel Allen, an HIV+ man who bit someone in self-defense got charged with bioterrorism. And in Texas, Willie Campbell, an HIV+ man got 35 years in prison for spitting at a police officer.
Society tells gay and bisexual men, “you are bad” and if you are living with HIV, you are worst. Of course, this is not true but this is what society and the government are telling these gay and bi men. Instead of criminalizing HIV+ people, the government should invest more money in finding a cure, a vaccine. Invest more in developing microbicides.
(HIV Is Not a Crime, 2011 Film by Sean Strub, Edit by Leo Herrera/HomoChic)
HIV Is Not a Crime. We must end HIV criminalization NOW!
In September 2011, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Repeal HIV Discrimination Act, a bill that could end HIV criminalization nationwide. The proposed bill states that “The criminalization of exposure to and/or transmission of HIV without the requirement of malicious intent violates the civil and human rights of individuals who are HIV-positive.”
The message of the vandalized ads is great but how the government wants people to know their HIV status if after you take the HIV test and the result is positive, the same government is going to tell you, “you are a criminal.”
We need to end HIV criminalization or people will not get tested. After all, if neither you nor anyone else knows your HIV-status, how can anyone accuse you of knowingly trying to spread it?
I am responsible for my body and the choices a make. You are responsible for your body and the choices you make.
Homophobic people vandalized the ads because they have images of gay and bisexual men. The government says, if you are HIV positive, you are a “criminal.” We have a lot of work to do. As Daniel Villarreal says, “repealing these laws would help us re-direct local resources to where the real HIV-battle is: reducing transmission in the first place as well as educating and treating those who are already infected.”
Should the police investigate who vandalized the ads? There are cameras at the station. Maybe they can find out who did it.
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