Interview of Tony Miles
Back in March, we shared videos from The Positive Project in honor of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Watching those videos reinforced the power of sharing personal stories about HIV through new media — and helped inspire our “I Know. I Took the Test” initiative for National HIV Testing Day. Today I’m pleased to share some insights from The Positive Project’s Tony Miles as part of our month-long series about HIV testing story initiatives:
- What inspired you to start The Positive Project?
As a psychologist who works with HIV-positive persons, their powerful and useful thoughts and words compelled us to find a way to connect HIV-positive persons with those who can benefit from hearing them.
- Why are you using new media to share those stories?
New digital media has been the lifeline of this project. It has made a digital archive possible so people can search by demographics, topics, or both, and find tailored messages, depending on the targeted audience they are trying to reach.
- What have been some results and/or lessons learned for the HIV community so far?
An HIV-positive participant told us that participating in this project had been the singular most life-affirming experience in 20+ years of living with HIV. The videos have been viewed by people from around the world who have told us they have found comfort in hearing from others. We have also heard that the videos have, in some cases, allowed people to disclose their status to others, get an HIV test, seek medical care, have hope, stay alive, and not feel alone.
- Where would you like to see the project go next?
We would like to see the video archive continue to grow and become an integral supplement to all HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and care efforts. HIV has lost its face and this project puts it back. It reminds us we are all in this together and that HIV-positive persons, if given the change, can be a part of the solution.
The website can be used for any efforts to raise awareness, reduce stigma, promote prevention, encourage testing, and enhance care. The site currently houses over 1500 video clips. Initiatives or campaigns can find HIV-positive persons speaking out on a range of topics to assist others. We encourage you to look, listen, learn, act.
The Positive Project’s videos demonstrated one of the most important reasons to get tested: If you test HIV positive, you can live a longer and healthier life with treatment. Thank you to Tony and The Positive Project contributors for sharing these powerful stories.
Check out our NHTD story widget to see story videos and to add the widget to your site! Looking for your local HIV testing center? Send a text message with your ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948) or visit www.hivtest.org .
Have a comment about The Positive Project? Have you been tested for HIV and want to share what it meant to you? We welcome your comments in the comments section below.