Last March, we launched the digital storytelling project, Positive Spin to continue to raise awareness and understanding of the HIV care continuum. Given the disproportionate impact of HIV on young Black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and our ongoing commitment to using new media tools in HIV efforts, Positive Spin features the personal stories of Black MSM who have successfully navigated the continuum from initial diagnosis to achieving viral suppression.
Yesterday was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In light of that, we asked each of the men how Positive Spin and social media have helped each of them address stigma around HIV/AIDS in the black community?
“Last month AIDS.gov posted a Happy Birthday message on social media with the #mypositivespin hashtag I shared it on my own social media channels and it generated a lot of conversation. Despite my work in the field, many people didn’t know I was truly speaking from experience and had no idea I was positive. This generated some great and emotional dialogue.
“When I feared speaking to my (new) partner about my status and feared being intimate, he held me and said, ‘I know. I’ve always known’. He had seen my Positive Spin digital storytelling video on Instagram. He’s negative and loves me. Positive Spin and social media made it easier to disclose. I can speak in front of thousands at a conference, but still get sick to my stomach disclosing in a new relationship.”
“I believe Positive Spin has helped tremendously because of the campaign’s intentionality in telling honest and relatable stories. All recent data identify Black Gay men as one of the most disproportionately affected populations combatting HIV. Positive Spin uses this data but completely spins (Pun intended) the narrative of those infected from victim to victor.
“Positive Spin is also the only campaign I’ve been a part of to create a facilitator’s guide to ensure the message of the campaign is translatable. The integration of social media has also been quite popular among infected and affected Millennials.”
What Positive Spin has taught me is how to address the issue of stigma through tangible demonstration; tangible in the sense that this video series highlights real people touching the lives of other very real people in a way that is supportive and humanizing through social media. For decades HIV has been this highly stigmatized epidemic and I believe visibility of HIV+ individuals is the cure to that stigma. The men in #MyPositiveSpin prove through each stage of the care continuum that being present and accountable matters internally and socially.”
“Positive Spin has given me the confidence to share my story with my family and their friends. I use it as a tool to share my status with people who are just getting to know me. I’m proud to place #mypositivespin behind my @pluslifeofpat Instagram page as I travel the world (as a flight attendant). I show folks that HIV may slow me down at times but it doesn’t stop me from living my true potential.”
The stories of the men featured in this project represent their own experiences and are not intended to be inclusive—HIV affects each individual differently and everyone’s story is unique.
Share your story — #mypositivespin!