is deeply misplaced.
via NOMOREPOTLUCKS, by Nicholas Little
When Ontario’s campaign against HIV stigma within the gay community came out last fall, some men (mostly HIV- men, but some poz guys too) reacted negatively to the campaign slogan: If you were rejected every time you disclosed, would you?
While delivering campaign materials to one of the local gay bars a few months back, the bartender cornered me and said, "I don't like that message." When I asked him why, he said, "Well, what is it saying? That it's okay for poz guys not to disclose? Are they trying to excuse non-disclosure because rejection hurts so bad?"
These questions weren't always easy to answer, and this campaign really stretched my thinking as a result. As an outreach worker with gay men, I was meant to be able to answer questions just like these.
I actually like the slogan because it is provocative and probably accounts for much of the attention that this campaign received. The success of HIV prevention campaigns aren't measured in terms of the number of viewers reached, but rather in the appreciable ways they improve people's lives, thereby leading to reduced HIV transmission rates. But you have to get people paying attention to, thinking about and discussing your message if it's going to have any impact. A controversial slogan helped make this happen.
I think folks who disliked the campaign slogan felt most uncomfortable when they read it as being aimed at HIV+ men. The campaign is, in fact, targeting HIV- guys. It isn't saying, "Hey poz guys, sick of negative assholes treating you like shit each time you stick your neck out and disclose your status? Well then just don't bother!" Rather, it’s saying, "Hey negative guys! (or perhaps: Hey guys who think you are negative!...) We know the vast majority of you would very much like to remain HIV- and that's a worthy goal. But a lot of you are trying to remain negative by keeping HIV+ men as far away from you as possible. And science shows that that strategy just doesn't work. So let's rethink things a little."