Talking about HIV and AIDS and encouraging people to get tested could be a new positive movement. And we are totally getting behind it! Now, there is a rise in the number of voices speaking about the much hushed STD. The immunity crushing disease which has the potential to claim lives. Off recent, many celebrities, LGBT+ movements, and changing government rules have begun to act as a platform for awareness.
But luckily for us, we have found ways to contain it and keep it from transmitting. Even scientists and doctors have found medicines that can regulate the disease in HIV poz patients. As a result, this means that the fear of HIV can finally take a backseat and decrease the taboo around it.
So what helps to spread the knowledge of these advancements and updates? Well-thought-out campaigns! And one such campaign taps on the under-represented section of South-Asian Bisexual and Gay men.
The GMFA “Me. Him. Us.” campaign
Gay Men’s Health Project or the GMFA recently came up with a campaign. Aimed to encourage Gay and Bisexual men from South Asia to get themselves for STDs and mainly, HIV. The campaign is a result trailing on a different campaign that was previously held to encourage black men for the same.
According to Pink News, “Me. Him. Us.” also looks to increase the representation of gay and bisexual men from these communities. The focus is because they have been under-represented for years now. And the campaign will be advertised in London and across Britain from this month.
“Being South Asian and same-sex attracted can be a delicate balancing act,” Alexander Leon
Being South Asian and gay has proved to be ‘a delicate balancing act’ as described by Alexandar Leon. Leon is one of the “Me. You. Us.” campaign leads. The population that the campaign targets has two different levels of societal control.
Firstly, the understandings of masculinity, gender roles, familial expectation, and societal expectations from men are vital.
Secondly, these are influential factors, especially in a patriarchal set-up. Evidently, the men from South Asian countries have enough to tackle with. In addition to this, being gay and maybe even HIV poz clearly reflects the need for support.
That is why the campaign features a team of South Asian gay and bisexual men who are driving home the point. The voices from the community can help tackle the issues of the community and the targeted group, as a consequence of the representation. The team’s effort to make a positive contribution to their communities fuels the campaign.
Representing the Less Celebrated
Alexander Leon had more to say. “For me, the clash of trying to observe cultural norms while navigating an emerging queer identity was a deeply isolating experience. It seemed impossible to stay true to my authentic self while maintaining a meaningful relationship with my loved ones whose culture or religion sometimes dictated intolerance.”
Leon considers the campaign as a “double whammy”. The campaign deals with educating them about HIV and its treatment, and access to the medicines. The South Asian men face inequality when it comes to this. And the second ‘wham’ is that the campaign acts as a platform to represent the less-celebrated.
Leon says that he eventually became more aware of his identity. And that it became “achingly evident” that the representation of South Asian gay and bisexual men was low.
Me. Him. Us. is so important because it delivers a crucial message on HIV prevention to a demographic who sorely need to hear it.
Above all, Leon truly believes that the campaign will strongly serve the purpose. And that will encourage more gay and bisexual men from their communities to get tested.
“Me. Him. Us. is so important because it delivers a crucial message on HIV prevention to a demographic who sorely need to hear it,” he continued.
“What’s more, our deliberate choice to place campaign ads in LGBTQ+ social spaces around the country sends a clear message to any South Asian men feeling the particular sense of isolation that comes from simultaneously experiencing homophobia from your ethnic community and racism from the LGBTQ+ community – you, your identity, your life, and your choices are valid.”
Higher HIV diagnoses in Gay and bisexual men from South Asian communities
Similarly, the Chief Executive of GMFA’s parent group, Ian Howley, stated that it is crucial that South Asian gay and bisexual men have a platform to create change in the community.
The website also stated Howley’s take. “For far too long, these men are an afterthought or used in a tokenistic way. This version of Me. Him. Us. puts South Asian gay and bisexual men in front and center of a national campaign. That’s really important.”
Finally, Howley also mentioned an important fact about the targetted campaign group. A reason to strongly support the campaign and probably reimagine it in every country with a South Asian population.
“South Asian gay and bisexual men are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and at a later stage too. It’s important that we increase the need for frequent testing for HIV and STIs for South Asian gay and bisexual men.”
If we could reimagine the campaign to personally suit and befit each country, we could observe a decrease in the number of HIV poz cases. In many countries, society isolates HIV poz patients. And the individuals rarely receive the treatment they require. And there is an increase in medication and treatment methods.
Consequentially, many HIV poz people can lead long lives with the help of medication. And to add to the effort, treatment methods are not as painstaking as one might imagine. This noteworthy campaign should inspire many more to talk about HIV and sexual health.
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