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LA Hunks of HIV Equal Flex Their Muscles Against HIV Stigma

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?HIV Equal? provides testing, awareness through social media photo campaign

(LOS ANGELES, CA – DEC. 18, 2013) ? HIV Equal (www.HIVequal.org) is an all-inclusive anti-stigma and HIV testing initiative sponsored by World Health Clinicians (www.worldhealthclinicians.org). The campaign and health initiative are acutely aware that HIV affects everyone, but after the most recent shoot in Los Angeles–the city of beautiful people–there was an abundance of uber sexy men supporting the campaign.

The HIV Equal crew photographed and tested fabulous celebrities, artists and politicians throughout the course of a week. To date, HIV Equal has photographed and tested over 300 people in the last two months and the campaign is taking off like wildfire.

Since the launch on October 14, 2013, HIV Equal has received more than 2,600 Twitter followers @HIVEqual and over 2,000 Facebook “Likes” www.Facebook.com/HIVequal, and a rapidly growing fan base on Instagram (HIVequal). They were even awarded the title of “Best new HIV campaign” for 2013 by Healthline after less than 60 days in operation.

“All the buzz and excitement is extremely promising,? noted World Health Clinicians? Executive Director, Scott Gretz. “We know that stigma is a huge hurdle we need to overcome in order to get people tested for HIV and to dramatically decrease transmission rates. We look forward to taking HIV Equal all over the country and reigniting the national conversation about HIV. The epidemic is NOT over.”

According to the latest statistical data reported by the County of Los Angeles in its 2012 Annual HIV Surveillance Report, there were more than 2,000 new diagnoses of HIV infection in 2010, with a total of 45,474 persons currently living with HIV by December 31, 2012. Men accounted for 1,816 (88%) of such cases, and the age demographic that saw the highest number of infections (60%) was between the ages of 20-39.

Recently added to its list of supporters is Todrick Hall, Ben Patrick Johnson, Greg Louganis, Mario Diaz,?Amy Paffrath and husband Drew Seeley,?Selene Luna, The Friend Movement’s Ronnie Kroell, Tony Tripoli, Kristin Banta, Jackie Beat, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran and dozens of other amazing individuals.

HIV Equal co-founders Jack Mackenroth and celebrity photographer Thomas Evans are particularly excited to be supported by NOH8 co-founder Adam Bouska, who has effectively illustrated what a social media campaign like this can do to change public opinion.

“We are launching HIV Equal with photos of amazing artists and celebrities but the goal is just to garner national attention so we can take this mobile testing initiative around the country and test people from all walks of life who want to get involved, get tested and help fight the stigma,” says WHC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Blick. ?We are very aware that HIV affects everyone – and disproportionately affects communities that include people of color. We truly appreciate everyone?s participation, but we would LOVE more men and women of color to join the campaign.?

The HIV Equal photo campaign fights the stigma associated with HIV by illustrating that everyone is equally valuable regardless of HIV status. Participants photographed also take an HIV test with an on-hand health professional as part of a greater effort to help end the fear around HIV testing. The test is confidential and involves a quick mouth swab with results in 20 minutes. In the event that an individual does test positive, the staff is prepared with the necessary counseling and linkage to care.

Individuals are photographed with a unique ?HIV=? logo, which strategically appears on their body. As a play on the word ?status,? a unique caption will read ?STATUS:_______,? and every model picks a word that exemplifies one aspect of their personality. This alludes to the fact that who we are as people is much more important than an HIV status.”

The time for ending the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and HIV testing is now, and “HIV Equal” is taking a unique, creative action to achieve this goal.

To learn more about World Health Clinicians, please visit www.worldhealthclinicians.org. To learn more about HIV Equal, please visit www.HIVequal.org.? For a media contact, please contact Jack Mackenroth by email at [email protected] or by phone at 203.939.9408.

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About World Health Clinicians
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 specialists Dr. Gary Blick and Executive Director Scott Gretz, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in the developed and developing world. www.worldhealthclinicians.org

About HIV Equal
HIV Equal is a national multimedia campaign that aims to end HIV stigma and promote HIV testing by creating a social art movement which reignites the national dialogue about HIV/AIDS. The concept of HIV Equal was 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 also be tested for HIV. As the campaign grows, this will help 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. www.HIVequal.org

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