Frontiers Editor Combats HIV Stigma With New Video Campaign

“Hi, my name is Alex Garner and I’m HIV positive. I’m not ashamed, and I’m not embarrassed, and no one should be.”

With that, Alex Garner, creator of OutAboutHIV.org, welcomes others to courageously go public about their HIV positive status.

Soft-launched just a few weeks ago, Garner’s new HIV campaign to combat the stigma against those with HIV was sparked by “It Gets Better,” a campaign against the bullying of LGBT young people created in late 2010 by columnist Dan Savage. “It Gets Better” has become a world-wide movement, with more than 50,000 user-generated videos, including many by celebrities, that have been viewed more than 50 million times.

Garner, however, hopes his project will go one step further by inspiring people to action.

“It’s one of the rare instances where just saying something is action,” Garner said of “coming out.”

Garner’s project invites users to submit their own short videos about “coming out about HIV.” They can be filmed using devices as simple as Flip cameras or iPhones.

In a recent Huffington Post column, Garner wrote:

“The coming out movement of the LGBT community is a modern success story. It demonstrates that when people live open and unashamed lives, society can witness their humanity, and our culture can evolve.

“We can bring about the same kind of change for HIV. People living with HIV have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. HIV is a disease, and having it doesn’t make us dirty, worthless or immoral. It simply means we have a virus.”

For now, Garner is accepting videos and will wait until he has a diverse stock before fully promoting the site.

“Knowing how successful the ‘coming out campaign’ has been for LGBT people in reducing stigma and increasing understanding, we never had that movement around HIV,” Garner said. “So my thinking was ‘why don’t we have that?’, and now we can do it in a modern technological way.”

To watch Garner’s own personal OutAboutHIV.org video, see below:

To learn more about Garner’s story, click here.