1. Abel says

    I get it, but I think this is a bad idea, or at least not the time for it. It will just give Teabagistan and our other enemies additional ammunition to denounce equality, and may thereby taint the idea in the minds of our allies.

  2. Kenneth says

    Yes, lets keep discriminating against each other so that the wing nuts who would otherwise leave us alone -NOT! We have to treat each other with respect before we can expect it from anyone else. Labeling HIV positive individuals as less than clean, does not accomplish that goal. This is a great campaign and is right on time, if not a bit late.

  3. Knock says

    Presenting HIV status as unimportant is not going to combat stigma in the intended way. There’s a reason so many young men are getting infected: they already think it isn’t a big deal.

    (And “We are all HIV equal” sounds a bit too close to “we all have HIV”.)

  4. Paul R says

    This is absurd. We’re not all HIV equal. Some people have it and some don’t. I have plenty of positive friends, but I wouldn’t rush to get HIV and pretend like it’s easy to manage.

    Also, whoever Photoshopped his picture really needs to ease up.

  5. Gast says

    HIV is still a deadly virus. Glamorizing a disease is not much of a campaign. People living with HIV deserve a shot at happiness as the next guy. Lets not confuse that with the illusion of false safety. Protect yourselves and be careful, your health is at stake.

  6. Just_a_guy says

    Ok, first, those of you who whine that this somehow glamorizes HIV have not kept yourselves up to date on why reducing stigma is GOOD for the public Health of ALL: because if stigma can be reduced, testing will increase, and more people who are positive will find that out and take steps to not expose others.

  7. Gast says

    JUST_A_GUY Glamorizing something doesn’t really fight stigma. As far as knowing one’s status, there are many anonymous testing centers and home test kits (oraquick) available in just about every pharmacy.

  8. Just_a_guy says

    State and local governments have made testing FAR less effective than it could be. If it were anonymous and instant, thousands more gay men would get tested–and get their results.

    My most recent HIV test, I was required to give my name, and then return for another visit to get results. It was in an odd part of town, and I never bothered to return. Granted, I presume I’m negative, insist on condoms anyway, etc., but I don’t KNOW.

    As it is, scary numbers of gay men don’t want to give their names or go to the trouble of ordering their own test, wait, etc.

    It seems to me like NOT having instant and anonymous tests in every major city–and even minor ones–all easy to get to…likely infects millions of gay men with HIV. Negligence in the part of public health officials, no?


  9. Just_a_guy says

    Not gonna lie: I couldn’t bring myself to buy an HIV test at a store or have it appear in the mail. I just couldn’t sorry, and I don’t need to explain myself. I don’t think I’m the only one. And I’m even owning that stigma of the IDEA affects me–and isn’t good for anyone. But I’m not going to not say it, because it has GOT to be a far more common experience than others let on.

    But how to solve? I dunno, but I’m not gonna discount this campaign, and these people standing up for what’s right.

  10. Gast says

    JUST_A_GUY I get that it isn’t easy. I’ve been in that situation too. It is hard to face up to something like this. I opted to get the test from Amazon, but that’s just me. It is also available from their site:

  11. Joe in Ct says

    After hearing a young man describe his earnest desire to “Turn Positive” so he could be “more accepted as a gay man” by his positive friends, I believe any attempt to glamorize or minimize HIV+ status is totally inappropriate and beyond misguided. While this campaign may be well intentioned, it inevitably serves to minimize the very real health consequences of a serious disease and sends the wrong message to vulnerable, poorly informed young people. We are not all HIV equal. This campaign is evil and deceptive.

  12. Josh says

    As a physician specializing in HIV, I have very mixed feelings about this campaign. I agree that stigma against HIV-positive individuals is definitely a bad thing, but so is becoming HIV infected in the first place. We need to find a balance where we let go of the stigma without dropping our defenses against this very preventable infection. It’s easier said than done. I’m not sure I have any bright ideas on this, but an “HIV equal” campaign doesn’t seem to help the prevention aspect.

  13. Thomas Cardellino says

    Dr. Spinelli in the video actually said, “People are living with this disease. There’s nothing to be feared [sic] about.” Really? What about those not-so-glamorous folks all over the world who don’t respond well to the HIV medications we now have? His statement is so ethically challenged that I think the project is nothing more than an AIDS-denial glitz and glamour fest from some of the New York City “in-crowd” who seek any limelight, and that can do great harm to our younger LGBTI generation. Certainly, there should be no stigma associated with contracting a disease, but “nothing to be feared [sic] about?” Maybe I didn’t get the New York City in-crowd’s “bubble” memo endorsed by the NIH that HIV has been cured in the villages of Africa or the inner cities of the USA. Maybe my last of many, many friends who spent months with uncontrollable diarrhea before they passed on just weren’t glamorous enough to overcome their exhausted immune systems. Outrageously in denial are these well-funded “camera-shy” poseurs about the percentage of miserable souls for whom medicine is fruitless. Shameful. Never, in the 60 years of my life have I ever seen such selfish self-promotion than that portrayed about these two designers (NOT MD’s) who so proudly claim their exclusive rights to “their” design while making sure everyone’s hair gel is “perfect, darling!”
    Now, let the vicious hipster venom come my way because I have a different perspective on the global HIV Epidemic, a perspective that finds me at the age of 60 knowing and loving many more people dead from HIV than living.

  14. stevetalbert says

    Unless you are attacked or get it from a blood infusion, HIV is 100% preventable. There is no need to stigmatize people, because it isn’t “contagious” unless you want you get it.

  15. T.s. says

    Actually, Thomas Cardellino, I’m young (and Poz) and I completely agree with 100 percent of what you said. It’s wrongheaded, self-indulgent, and as someone else mentioned it will probably be more effective at monetarily compensating the people involved than accomplishing anything worthwhile.

  16. Mike says

    This is certainly not glamorizing the disease. No one is saying that HIV is NOT a horrible disease. It is! THIS is all about respect and understanding for the PEOPLE who are inflicted with it! They should be treated with the dignity of ANY human being. The value of a person does not suddenly disappear when a person has cancer. Neither should their worth vanish if they have AIDS.

  17. Jeff says

    This is borderline deranged. If it were any other disease, no one would dream of a campaign like this? Could you imagine someone saying that having emphysema is equal to not having it? Or that having the flu or a heart attack is no better nor worse than not having the flu or a heart attack?

    These people are insane. They don’t give a rat’s ass about stopping the spread of this serious disease. Their primary concern is for their own self-esteem and their need to feel absolved of responsibility for hurting themselves and others.

    Bottom line: getting HIV in 2013 is something to be ashamed about. While there may be a tiny percent of gay men who take every precaution but then have a mishap which leads to infection, the vast majority of cases involve people who repeatedly engage in risky sex acts with multiple partners. It is because of this behavior that gay and bi men continue to account for over 70% of all HIV infections, even though we only comprise 2% of the population and even though there is near universal understanding of how HIV is transmitted. This is so reckless, so selfish, so uncaring that it deserves to be stigmatized.

  18. Thomas Cardellino says

    Thank you, T.S., and I especially appreciate confirmation that you younger folks are media savvy and wise beyond your years. Be well, and don’t ever let anyone get away with casting shade on you, or even falsely lighting you with limelight. You are who you are and that is a very unique gift to the world.

  19. Marc says

    What I love about this campaign is that is puts a person’s dignity in the spotlight and their HIV-status, whether positive or negative, beneath that. At the end of the day, we all want to be seen for who we are as a person — how we treat people, what we bring to the world, our heart, our smile, our “stamp” on the planet. We don’t want to be seen as a disease we may have or a virus we may or may not carry.

    I don’t feel this campaign pretends having HIV/AIDS is a walk in the park. It encourages testing and says, “we need to care for ourselves and others.” To me, that includes prevention.

    If anything, this campaign has got us talking about HIV, and that can only be a good thing.

  20. Thomas Cardellino says

    Jeff, you are an unmitigated idiot about medicine, society, compassion and even your own self-respect. Why do you seem to be projecting some serious psychological problem you possess upon people who have gotten ill? The Flu Epidemic of World War One took many lives due to a previously unknown virus. The SARS Epidemic had taken many lives before it waned. Bacteria and viruses have plagued humankind for millennia, but never would anyone have dreamed to “blame” the victims, as have you for contracting an illness. “God bless you” is a common response to a mere sneeze because 100 years ago it was the first sign of a deadly flu. Should we condemn modern day folks who defer using facial masks during Flu Season? Don’t demand perfection from other humans when you are merely a human, too.

  21. Douglas says

    Oh, joy. Another ad campaign—by another guy whose foolhardy behavior resulted in him becoming poz—sets out to educate others about how to behave. Whatever. It goes without saying that those who are poz should be treated with equal respect. But “HIV equality”? Give me a freakin’ break. There’s no such thing as “HIV equality”–for the simple reason that being HIV-negative is better than being HIV-positive. And that will always be the case, however much Mackenroth might strive to “normalize” the latter. The very notion of this vanity-based farce is outside of reality.

  22. MaryM says

    Anyone who acquires HIV in 2013 really is an utter idiot.

    It is preventable.

    As for the treatment of HIV – well it’s widely known that HIV is now merely a chronic condition, not a death sentence. Treatment for Type 1 diabetes is far more intrusive and unpleasant than treatment for HIV and that the side-effects and complications from Type 1 diabetes are worse than side effects and complications from HIV.

    We are not allowed to mention that as it might disrupt the professional victim status of HIV patients.

  23. Fenrox says

    I am all for the campaign, a lot of the stupid problems you guys have with HIV would be alleviated with a campaign. Sunlight is the only fix to 99% of problems, HIV+ people need to be part of the world to show deference TO the world.

    But, that image is horrible. The suicide theme is in poor taste and the colors are eye hurting.

  24. andy says

    This is like the 100th anti-stigma campaign I’ve seen and they all look the same. White all-American golden boy could get laid by anyone he wanted. Is reckless, gets HIV, now his options are more limited and is trying desperately to be perceived the same way he was before he was poz. You know what, I’m not HIV=, I’m HIV- and it’s better to be neg than poz. Stop trying to act like it’s not. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily a better person than a poz person but maintaining your HIV- status is worth doing. The best way to avoid stigma to to never get this 100% preventable disease.

  25. Michael from NY says

    Does anyone else find it interesting that there are so many judgemental, stigmatizing comments on this page about a new campaign to end stigma… this is indeed the problem, my friends.

  26. The Milkman says

    This program seems poorly-conceptualized. The idea that stigma and hyperbole associated with HIV positive status should be mitigated is a good thing. However, there is a middle ground between “there’s no difference between negative and positive status” and “people who get HIV in 2013 are utter idiots and deserve what they get”. How about continuing our efforts to educate, prevent, and treat?

    And P.S., getting HIV in 2013 is no more indicative of idiocy than getting pregnant in 2013. Both of these conditions are easily prevented, with well-understood etiologies (pregnancy being understood for a far longer time frame, of course). However, people still get pregnant and still get HIV because people are not automatons. We are messy, fallible, confusing, distracted, overwhelmed, emotional, passionate, and wonderful. It’s this chaotic and inconsistency that makes us human, rather than machines… and this will always be a source of weakness and vulnerability for us. Understanding this and taking it into consideration when devising methods for controlling our more basic impulses (food, drink/drugs, sex, anger) is critical when identifying effective strategies for obtaining any desired result. It does no one any good to rail against human nature. It will never change. Best to accept it, and to include our messy humanity into our list of influences for which we should identify possible controls.

  27. OrwellIsDead says

    An ugly, amateurish campaign. Who chose the colours and the Mickey Mouse club props? The disastrous Photoshopping! The “with us or with the terrorists” oversimplification of the message! The list goes on, if you can be bothered.

    We are not HIV equal. You have let yourself become infected (9/10 cases) or have become infected through mischance (1/10 cases) or you have kept yourself uninfected (8/10 gay men and about 9.9/10 people in the world who aren’t gay men). Your HIV status and the decisions that have taken you there indicate a world of difference between you and someone of a different status, 9 times out of 10.

    We are supposed to be fighting HIV, not Photoshopping it.

  28. Jaxton says

    Mackenroth says his HIV status is “fearless”? Let’s see him go off his meds for 18 months and then tell us if he’s not frightened of HIV. Equal my ass. I’d have a heart attack if I found out I’d been infected.

  29. Jeff says

    @Thomas Cardellino:

    I think you are the unmitigated idiot here. No one is demanding “perfection” from anyone. What society has the right to expect, however, is that once folks are given the knowledge about the few paths of transmission of a dangerous virus, that they will avoid those few paths of transmission. Almost nobody passively gets” HIV; you have to go out and acquire it through voluntary action. If you know what not to do, and then you do it anyway because you care more about getting off than you do about your own health and the health of others, that is behavior that should be judged and should be stigmatized.

    There are healthy ways to be gay and there are unhealthy ways to be gay. We should promote and encourage the former and discourage and disincentivize the latter. Because this approach inevitably will entail a drop in the overall number of sexual contacts and some limit on the variety of sex acts, and because you elevate sex above human health, you object. You think that the right approach is to declare the healthy and the unhealthy to be “equal” and to ensure that there are no social mechanisms to encourage health over sickness. If we follow your approach, we will get more of what we have been getting for the past 30 years: new HIV infections, more illness, and more death.


    Good comment, but the seropositivity rate among all gay and bi men is 12%, not 20%. It approaches 20% in large urban areas, but when you average in suburban and rural areas, it drops to 12%.

    Incidentally, the rates vary dramatically when you compare gay men in stable, long-term relationships with those who hook up. The former being much lower than the 12% overall average and the latter being higher.

    So on the one hand, 88% of gay/bi men have shown that they are capable of being responsible and are able to protect themselves and others. But on the other hand, 12% is an appalling number, one of the highest prevalence rates in any community in the world. Maybe if we had “stigmatized” unsafe hookups back in the 80s rather than bend over backwards to make everything stigma-free, that rate would be a lot lower today.

  30. DB says

    Inaccurately making it seem like HIV transmission is rare and not a problem is what we need to oppose. We want to stigmatize the disease so that no one else becomes infected.

  31. FFS says

    @DB: The campaign is aimed at alleviating the debilitating fear of being diagnosed as poz that stops people from getting tested, because they’d rather not know. Fear of the disease, but also fear of disdain heaped upon them by judgmental skidmarks (like most of the people who’ve commented on this post) that will vilify them for being “irresponsible” and “bringing it upon themselves.”

    That fear puts those people and everyone who takes a chance on them at risk. All these brain trusts arguing that perpetuating the stigma will go further toward eliminating AIDS have got it completely backwards.

    But, that’s the kind of opinions you get from people who live with their heads up their bums.

  32. OrwellIsDead says

    FFS, you go a bit pear shaped when you say,

    “That fear puts those people and everyone who takes a chance on them at risk”.

    If someone who may well be infected with HIV is too frightened to have a HIV test, that’s his problem. If other guys are going to have unprotected sex with him, that’s their problem, but theirs is a different problem. Because unless you believe there’s a whole sub-class of infected but not tested men only having sex with each other, the problem is not stigma, but unprotected sex. Just as it always has been.

  33. RonC says

    I’m sick of seeing these highly airbrushed heavily photoshopped “Vanity Fair photo shoot” images made into Gay “HIV positive icons”. HIV/AIDS shouldn’t be about **FASHION**.

    It distorts and diminishes the importance of this subject by establishing this crap as the new norm.

    Just a quick Google search on Mackenroth will reveal a lot of fame whoring pornography and shameless self-promotion in the guise of “HIV advocacy”.

    If you want to support this cause and gain universal legitimacy,,,you can’t do it by spreading your ass cheeks and showing your low hanging scrotum…

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