Campaign Portrays Guys on PrEP as Heroes for Protecting Themselves and the Community Against HIV, Urges Others To Follow
#PrEPHeroes Behind the Scenes Video By Adam Khan
For an AMAZING Q & A with the models please visit www.PrEPHeroes.org
***Please don’t miss the call to action at the end and be a part of the campaign with your own #PrEPHeroes photo!!***
Housing Works Community Healthcare just launched a new multimedia campaign, drawing attention to the use of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as an effective HIV prevention tool. With nine individuals serving as spokesmodels, the campaign exists to highlight the heroism of those who protect themselves as well as their community from HIV infection through the use of PrEP.
At the time of the shoot in May, the nine men in the newly launched, on-line social media campaign were taking PrEP, the FDA-approved pre-vention agent indicated for individuals at risk for HIV infection through sexual exposure. Each is presented with a uniquely defining look to echo the diverse voices of the community.
“For the art direction of the campaign, I was given the instruction by Housing Works SVP Andrew Greene: ‘I want twisted, edgy superhero looks,’” notes AIDS activist Jack Mackenroth “So I brainstormed with stylist Nick Putvinksi and sketched out looks for each guy. I didn’t want to be literal with masks and capes so I used make-up and more of a Mad Max vibe for the costumes. They evolved into something incredible. Everyone who worked on the campaign is extremely talented and it all came together magically.”
Shares Mackenroth: “The goal of the campaign is to portray these men as role models and as powerful individuals who are taking charge of their own defense against HIV. I love that they are depicted as bold, visionary ‘heroes.’ They are seizing control of their own sexual health and protecting others by stopping further HIV transmission. I hope that the stylish and provocative nature of the campaign will inspire others to share it on social media, participate with their own #PrEPHeroes photo, and instigate conversations about HIV prevention.”
Renowned celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz helped bring the vision to life with his striking visual eye for exquisite imagery. Housing Works hopes that the campaign—which will surely leave its digital footprints across Twitter, Facebook, and gay dating and hookup apps, among other sites—will encourage gay and bi men who are HIV-negative to consider the benefits of PrEP as part of their HIV prevention toolkit.
“I think PrEP will revolutionize the epidemic—virtually stop transmission if it’s widely accessible and adopted and a prevention strategy,” continues Mackenroth. “More and more often negative guys I know tell me they are on PrEP.”
It’s been three years since Truvada as PrEP was approved in the U.S., and, since then, health departments in major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as well as numerous AIDS service organizations have introduced programs to make those at risk aware of the innovative prevention tool and to help them gain access to the once-a-day pill as part of a comprehensive approach to link individuals to testing, prevention education, and care. Although the PrEP Heroes campaign focuses on gay and bi men, the prevention tool has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection among transgender women, heterosexual men and women, and injection drug users. Studies have shown a ninety-two percent to ninety-nine percent re- duction in the risk of contracting HIV among those who are negative.
“PrEP is a crucial component of New York State’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic, which was has been endorsed by Governor Cuomo. We have seen tremendous progress and advances in research and medicine, but now we need to work to break down socioeconomic barriers and ex- pand access so that all at-risk communities can benefit from HIV prevention tools like PrEP,” says Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works.
PrEP Heroes is one of Housing Works Community Healthcare’s external campaigns that aims to build greater awareness of the organization, the life-‐saving services it provides, directly linking to the organization’s campaign End AIDS in New York State by 2020; a movement that was endorsed in April of 2015 by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Prevention—along with frequent testing and linking positive individuals to care and suppressing the virus to undetectable levels—is key to ending AIDS, but so is working against the systemic forces, like poverty and racism, that create an environment of risk. Sprung from the Housing Committee of ACT UP New York and founded on the simple premise that housing is the threshold step for improving the emotional and physical health of homeless people living with HIV and AIDS, regardless of disease progression, mental health issues or addiction, Housing Works fosters good health and positive social change through empowerment, innovation, and collaboration. Committed to health justice and advocacy, Housing Works provides essential, client-centered healthcare and support services for homeless and low-in- come New Yorkers living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The grass-roots organization has also turned entrepreneurial expertise into a solid funding source, with its Housing Works Thrift Shops, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe and The Works Catering account. The non-profit currently provides services for over 2,500 clients annually across New York City.
While the eye-popping campaign, with its otherworldly images, will surely catch the eye of gay and bi men, Housing Works knows that PrEP as a prevention practice is a little more down to earth. After all, the solid clinical data that supports the efficacy of PrEP means little if the prevention tool is not embraced by sexually active HIV-negative individuals as part of their daily routine. But the message the campaign is touting is crystal clear: We have what it takes to protect ourselves with PrEP. We can be heroes.
CALL TO ACTION!!!! BE A PART OF THE CAMPAIGN!!
Take a selfie that exemplifies your version of a hero–it could be related to PrEP or HIV or something totally unique. Then post it on social media with the hashtag #PrEPHeroes and #showusurhero. Then call out 3 of your friends to do the same!! Pass it on!!
I took this one this morning with bed head!! @jackmackenroth
Housing Works has several healthcare facilities that provide an array of services, for more information about the services provided visit: www.housingworks.org/heal.
For more information, please contact Katherine Oakes at K.Oakes@housingworks.org or 212.966.0466 Ext. 1124.
Visit www.prepheroes.org for more information about the campaign; visit www.housingworks.org for more information about Housing Works.