The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) will this month unveil a series of advertisements meant to dispel the myths, encourage the truths, and expose the realities of dealing with HIV in the modern age.
Most of the campaign is built around the theme “The H is for Human” and local public outreach efforts will center around a new website, HIVandME.com. The site will provide information, resources and support for those living with HIV, those at risk for HIV, or people trying to support a friend or family member living with the infection.
“It’s all about breaking down barriers, and exposing people to something they either don’t know about or don’t want to know about,” said Erin Fratto of the UDOH Prevention Treatment and Care Program.
Messages driving the campaign will encourage people to better understand the current state of HIV, including its myths and stereotypes, prevalence, and presence in modern day society. While understated in recent years, the disease (a precursor of AIDS) is not gone; in fact, there is one case of HIV diagnosed in Utah every three days (roughly 120 new infections are diagnosed in Utah every year).
“We can end the HIV epidemic in Utah,” Fratto said. “With improved science and medicine, we can prevent new HIV infections and ensure those living with HIV live healthy and long lives.”
“H is for Human” ads – appearing everywhere from outdoor billboards to web banners to bus and TRAX signage – will underscore the HIVandMe messaging, featuring images of people in various states of physical and emotional connection, with headlines like: “Get the test to live your best,” “A diagnosis doesn’t define you” and “Rethink what you know about HIV.”
The messaging, mainly directed at people living with HIV and to those who are at risk for HIV infection, emphasizes support and resources that can be found at HIVandMe.com.
Once at the website, those interested can find information on local clinics, information on modern prevention methods (including PrEP or PEP), tips to talk about prevention, information on testing, specifics on treatment and available resources from further education to financial aid, among many other topics.
“Every message is purposeful. We believe this website and this campaign will save lives,” Frattsaid. “Someone living with HIV can live a long, healthy, happy life. With effective HIV treatment, they can get to an undetectable and untransmittable status, meaning they can’t pass the virus to others. This message is a key component of our campaign. Overall, we can end the HIV epidemic in Utah, and get to zero new HIV infections and zero HIV-related deaths in Utah.