Greater than AIDS, the leading national public information response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has launched its Speak Out Campaign in Marin to encourage open communication about HIV in relationships and in the community.
Printed ads will be displayed in mall kiosks and bus stops through March. The Greater than AIDS ads depict gay and bisexual men speaking out about how people talk about HIV and encouraging the Marin community to “bring HIV out of the closet.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five gay and bisexual men in major cities across America have HIV, and as many as half of them do not know it.
“There is a perception that HIV is no longer an issue, yet the epidemic persists,” said Cicily Emerson, Program Manager for Marin County Public Health.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, there were 562 people diagnosed with HIV in Marin. In San Francisco, there were 15,791 people living with HIV/AIDS as of July 1, 2013.
“Marin is not immune, and we are just a bridge away from San Francisco,” said Andy Fyne, HIV Prevention Coordinator at Marin AIDS Project. “This campaign is saying, ‘HIV is not invisible, and we need to still talk about it.’ It is a call for action for us to take care of ourselves and our community.”
Additionally, the campaign promotes HIV testing for gay, bisexual and any men who have sex with men. Free rapid HIV testing is available at Marin AIDS Project, 910 Irwin St., San Rafael. Call 415-457-2002 to make an appointment or drop in on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 4:30-7 p.m.
The outreach campaign, developed with Bay Area gay and bisexual men, is part of collaboration between Marin Health and Human Services, Marin AIDS Project, the City and County of San Francisco and San Mateo County to reduce stigma and prevent HIV infection throughout the Bay Area. Since 2009, the national campaign has been spearheaded by the Kaiser Family Foundation.