Combating the Stigma

By: Celia Martinez

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsFear is often a factor for determining actions. Often times, its best to put fear aside, especially when it comes to health. The Aids Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is attempting to eliminate the fear and combat the stigma of getting tested for HIV/Aids with their new campaign “Change My Story.”

“The Change My Story Campaign is aimed at promoting HIV testing and HIV care and other wellness and health promotion for people who are at high risk for HIV,” said David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of the AFC. The Ads were launched to mark National HIV Testing Day, June 27th, and placed on bus shelters through out the South and West Sides of Chicago where they will remain until September 17th.

The Ads are unique as they are smart-phone driven. They feature “quick response” (QR) codes that individuals can scan with their smart-phones and will immediately direct them to videos from their website,

But what is truly remarkable about these Ads is their vibrancy and upbeat-ness, something not usually associated with HIV testing and care. “We do think the campaign strikes the right tone,” said Munar, “We want to emphasize in the campaign to continue to do the things that you love and be around the people you love and that’s its important to think about health and that it’s important to think about HIV as a health planned approach.”

There are five different storyboards for this campaign. They feature friends and individuals portraying moments in life such as: exercising with friends, girls night out, brunch with the guys, waking up to sunshine and even vogueing. Munar said that in the early stages of the campaign’s development, they brought in focus groups and discovered that people would be more reluctant to take down the information from the bus shelters if the Ads looked scary or had large print of HIV/ Aids.

“We wanted the campaign to be upbeat and let [individuals] know that there is a lot of hope,” Munar said. “We also wanted to make sure that folks who see the bus shelter Ads use the quick response codes and go to the websites for more information.” Munar said the AFC wants to normalize HIV testing and hopes these campaigns help individuals see getting tested as a routine in their health and eliminate the fear and anxiety of getting tested.

“The whole campaign is really aimed at encouraging people to think about the things in their lives or the people in their lives they value the most and to expand their opportunity to enjoy the things that they love,” said Munar.

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