Sandra Bernhard Comes Out to Support HIV Equal Testing Event
After only eight months since the inception of HIV Equal by World Health Clinicians, the HIV testing and photo campaign will make a splash in New York from 4-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 at New York City’s BarTini Ultra Lounge. The first wave of photos included celebrities such as Bianca Del Rio, Billy Porter, Greg Louganis, Todrick Hall, Peter Staley and many others, and since then the interest in the campaign has exploded.
"Our goal is to reignite the national conversation about HIV and HIV testing and get the New York community on-board with frequent testing," said Chief Medical Officer of World Health Clinicians, Dr. Gary Blick. "With all of the recent medical advances such as the CDC’s endorsement of PrEP and the groundbreaking results of the PARTNER study, we have an arsenal of new tools that can change the transmission rates of HIV which have remained unchanged for decades. However the key to leveraging these scientific advances is getting everyone tested and linking positive individuals to proper care and treatment."
Already confirmed for this Saturday’s event are comedienne and actress Sandra Bernhard, event hostess and DJ Chi Chi La Rue, Adam Killian, Phi Phi O’Hara, Daniel Nardicio, Jiggly Caliente, Scott Nevins, Peppermint, King Ralphy, Miss Hell’s Kitchen 2014: Brenda Dharling, Viktor Luna, Cassanova and Scott Patric of Project Runway, Mickey Boardman, Seth Fornea, Jared LeBlanc, Jonathan Lovitz, Pearl, Eric Alan, Jackie Cox, Gregory Nalbone, Pusse Couture, Marti Gould Cummings and many of the fabulous people who have already been photographed for HIV Equal.
"We expect a full house based on RSVPs and responses on social media so we encourage guests to arrive early and be patient," noted Jack Mackenroth, co-creator of HIV Equal. "Unfortunately, space is limited so only people who are participating in the campaign will be admitted, and part of participation is taking a confidential, rapid mouth-swab HIV test before the shoot."
The HIV Equal testing and anti-stigma photo campaign illustrates that everyone is equally valuable regardless of his or her HIV status. The campaign does not call out anyone’s status and the testing portion, run by Outreach and Testing Coordinator, Dante Gennaro, is completely confidential.
On Saturday there will be ten testing stations and two results rooms along with on hand professionals to provide counseling and linkage to care if necessary. The hope is that the final photos will gain exposure through social media channels and as people see familiar faces getting tested they will be inspired to follow suit.
"We have the process down to a well-choreographed science," said HIV Equal photographer and co-creator, Thomas Evans. "The excitement about HIV Equal in NYC is incredible. We are going to do everything we can to accommodate everyone on Saturday. We have never had an event of this magnitude before and plan to hold these events on a regular basis. Our community needs to come together around the HIV epidemic. Together, when we all know our status, we CAN make change."
HIV Equal will continue to push for greater visibility through its own social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
HIV Equal is an international multimedia campaign that aims to end HIV stigma and promote HIV testing by creating a social art movement that reignites the dialogue about HIV/AIDS. The concept of HIV Equal was founded by World Health Clinicians and co-created by Jack Mackenroth, a long-time HIV activist and Project Runway alumnus, and celebrity photographer Thomas Evans.
The campaign photos include people from all walks of life who support the concept that regardless of one’s HIV status, we are all equally valuable. To help promote HIV testing, every person who takes part in the campaign will first be tested for HIV. As the campaign grows, it will help to take the fear out of HIV testing. And as young people see their role models in the photos, they will want to become a part of the HIV Equal movement, as well.
World Health Clinicians, Inc. (WHC) is a U.S.-based non-profit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization founded in September 2010 by U.S. HIV/AIDS specialist Dr. Gary Blick and Executive Director Scott Gretz to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in the developed and developing world.
For more information about World Health Clinicians, please visit www.worldhealthclinicians.org. To learn more about HIV Equal, please visit www.HIVequal.org, or for the You Can Play Project, please visit www.youcanplayproject.org.