National HIV awareness organization Who's Positive is launching a ten-day effort to promote HIV testing by taking a Facebook group viral.
"Just like a successful attempt to bring Betty White to Saturday Night Live, Who's Positive encourages people from all over the World to join a Facebook group called "ANDERSON COOPER or Dr. SANJAY GUPTA - PERFORM LIVE HIV TEST ON AIR on 6/27," said Tom Donohue, Founding Director of Who's Positive.
"Yesterday was not soon enough, tomorrow is too late to bring much needed attention to this epidemic" says Donohue. "We need to respond to the HIV epidemic with the same urgency as our nation has to the H1N1 virus. I'm hopeful that this Facebook group will become viral and Anderson and Sanjay will step up to dedicating a small part of their nearly daily appearance on CNN to getting tested and showing how painless and simple being tested can be."
Painless and simple, right?
Who's Positive is a great organization - I subscribe to their email newsletter, have been inspired by the stories of members, and used their resources for my clients and HIV+ support groups. But I wonder if the message is just getting lost with all the other distractions of Pride Month.
Like many others in HIV prevention work, I see the uphill battle every day. I see the LGBT kids who have little or no self-esteem, the married men who are secretly having unsafe sex on the side, the middle-aged out-and-proud gay men who are tired of condoms, and the HIV positive people who are worn out from rejection, hypervigilance, economic worries and fear of the future. I see them all. I've staffed the HIV booths at Pride festivals, I've handed out condoms in parades. I've watched the glazing over of eyes when talking about HIV to high-risk groups. I've worked my ass off. Often it makes me physically and emotionally very tired- and sometimes very cynical about the ubiquitous pairing of HIV and Pride.
Let's face it, denial in the form of colorful parades, drunken revelry and hot bodies is much more attractive than the reality of an HIV wake-up call.
Don't kill the buzz, dude.
But I take a breath, reinforce my belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity and soldier on - like thousands of others.
Like Tom Donohue.
It's people like him who can take that cynicism and turn it around. " A facebook group, well why not?" Maybe people can click a link in between sewing sequins on their g-strings and waxing. In fact, maybe we could make it sexy. "Join this group while naked!"
However it works, it can only help. But only if people join.
Personally, I did it while wearing my sequined g-string.