World Health Clinicians’ Anti-Stigma and HIV Testing Initiative, “HIV Equal,” To Co-Sponsor Bridgeport LGBT Youth and Equality Sports Event
World Health Clinicians’ Anti-Stigma and HIV Testing Initiative, “HIV Equal,” To Co-Sponsor Bridgeport LGBT Youth and Equality Sports Event, Host Photo Shoot, March 2nd
Event to be held in support of You Can Play Project; promoting equality in professional sports
Hot on the heels of NFL hopeful Michael Sam’s coming out announcement, “You Can Play Day,” which was developed by the You Can Play Project (www.youcanplayproject.org) promoting LGBT equality in sports, is coming to Bridgeport during a hockey match featuring the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Additionally, the popular HIV testing and anti-stigma campaign, “HIV Equal” (www.HIVequal.org), founded by Norwalk-based World Health Clinicians (WHC) (www.worldhealthclinicians.org), which is a co-sponsor of the event, is also hosting an HIV testing event and photo shoot. All of this takes place at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT on Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 1-7 p.m.
MARCH 2, 2014
“You Can Play Day” was developed to help bring awareness to LGBT athletes in sports, and will include various events throughout the day, including an hour-long panel discussion about inclusion of LGBT athletes beginning at 1 p.m., an HIV testing and HIV Equal photo shoot from 2-7 p.m., and a Sound Tigers vs. Utica Comets hockey match at 3 p.m. The HIV Equal campaign will be in the Harvard Room conveniently located just off the Atrium. There, participants will receive free HIV rapid tests and have their pictures taken.
HIV Equal will only be able to accept the first 150 participants for the photo shoot, so space is limited. However, it is strongly encouraged that as many people as possible get tested for HIV even if they are unable to take a photo. The test is confidential and involves a quick mouth swab with results in 20 minutes. In the event that an individual does test ‘reactive’ for HIV antibodies, on-hand staff is prepared with the necessary counseling and linkage to care. The Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program (GBAPP), will also be providing free HIV testing from 2 p.m. until the end of the evening.
“It was a huge honor having the Sound Tigers and the You Can Play Project tailor a sponsorship package for World Health Clinicians and HIV Equal, and to include our social media photo campaign as part of their program as we continue to work towards ending the stigma surrounding HIV and HIV Testing,” said Scott Gretz, Executive Director of World Health Clinicians. “Furthermore, knowing that we’re doing our part to end the stigma against LGBT individuals in both recreational and professional sports speaks to our commitment to breaking down barriers and creating a social atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion wherever we can.”
The HIV Equal testing and anti-stigma photo campaign illustrates that everyone is equally valuable regardless of their HIV status. It recently returned from events in Los Angeles, New York and Norwalk where it quickly earned the support of celebrities, models, athletes and politicians, all of whom have helped to garner greater visibility in affected communities in each city and across the U.S. Some of the names attached to the campaign include U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT), West Hollywood Council Member John Duran, voiceover actor Ben Patrick Johnson, actress Amy Paffrath, YouTube sensation and American Idol finalist Todrick Hall, Tony-award winner Billy Porter, Broadway star Nick Adams, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, among many others.
“While statistically it’s true that HIV is more prevalent among certain demographics, the disease does not discriminate and poses a risk to everyone,” explains Dante Gennaro Jr., WHC’s Outreach and Testing Coordinator. “Getting tested for HIV should be as routine as a check-up with your doctor. Everyone, regardless of sexuality or social demographic, should be familiar with getting an HIV test. Getting tested may seem scary, but knowing your status is important for your health and the health of others. Modern medications bring the virus into remission and once the virus is continuously managed at an ‘undetectable’ level, it’s nearly impossible to pass it on. By getting tested, you’re being responsible and doing your part to end this epidemic and the stigma attached to HIV.”
WHC understands both the human and the financial cost of HIV/AIDS, and has developed HIV Equal through a social media strategy of visibility to encourage people across the U.S., and across the globe, to get tested and to know their HIV status. It will continue to push for greater visibility through its own social media outlets, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/HIVequal), Twitter (@HIVequal) and Instagram (www.instagram/HIVequal).
For more information about World Health Clinicians, please visit www.worldhealthclinicians.org. To learn more about HIV Equal, please visit www.HIVequal.org, or for the You Can Play Project, please visit www.youcanplayproject.org.