The Changing Face of HIV
The Changing Face of HIV
For over thirty years the specter of AIDS has haunted the world, devastated the gay and African American communities in the United States, and wrought havoc on communities in Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia. But times are changing.
Once a near certain death sentence, dramatic developments in treatment have rendered HIV a manageable condition. At the same time, the amazing activists and advocates profiled here are challenging the way we think about people living with HIV.
Timothy R Brown
Known colloquially as “The Berlin Patient,” Timothy R. Brown holds the distinction of being the first person in the world to be cured of HIV/AIDS. HIV positive since 1995, Mr. Brown was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 2006. His oncologist, Dr. Gero Huetter, attempted a radical treatment: he transferred stem cells from an individual with genetic “immunity” to HIV.
Five years later, Timothy R. Brown is known as “The Man Who Once Had HIV.” While his treatment remains impractical as a worldwide cure, Mr. Brown remains a beacon of hope, proving that HIV may someday be curable for all.
Editor of Positive Frontiers Magazine, a top magazine for gay and bisexual men, Alex Garner is one of the nation’s most vocal advocates for Treatment as Prevention. This strategy advocates treating HIV positive individuals with antiretroviral medication, which suppresses viral loads and makes it more difficult to spread the virus.
HIV positive himself since 1996, Mr. Garner is involved in efforts to combat HIV stigma and build community among those with HIV. He also launched Out About HIV, a social networking site designed to help people find the strength to come out publicly as HIV positive.
A contestant on Season 8 of Project Runway (and the winner of the first Project Runway All-Stars), Mondo famously came out as HIV positive on television after having kept his status secret from his family for ten years. Mondo has since become a strong advocate for the HIV positive community.
In 2010, Mondo designed t-shirts for World AIDS day, with proceeds benefiting AmFar (an organization for AIDS research). In partnership with Merck, he also founded Project I Design, a national education campaign to help empower patients to work with their doctors to develop tailored HIV treatments.
In 2005, silver medal winner and Australian Olympian Ji Wallace came out as gay. In 2012, he came out as HIV positive in a letter to the Sydney Star Observer.
Inspired by the famous American Olympian, Greg Louganis, and the recent coming out of Anderson Cooper as homosexual, Ji Wallace marveled at “the value in being seen and heard.” He has since joined the ENUF campaign, an Australian anti-stigma initiative that seeks to gather stories of HIV stigma and resilience.
Few people in the world have fought longer or harder for the rights of people living with HIV than Sean Strub. A long-time member of Act Up New York, the first openly HIV positive man to run for congress, a genius at LGBT fundraising and marketing, and founder and Executive Editor of POZ Magazine, Sean is currently co-chair of the North American affiliate of the Global Network of People Living with HIV and the Executive Director of the Sero Project. He also teamed up with filmmaker Leo Herrera of the HomoChic artist collective to produce the short documentary film “HIV IS NOT A CRIME".
Andrew Sullivan, writer of The Dish blog, is a man of many contradictions. This English-born writer and commentator on American politics is the former editor of The New Republic. Although he is a self-identified openly gay political conservative, he seems frequently at odds with the Republican Party. Indeed, Mr. Sullivan was recently listed among “The 25 Most Influential Liberals” by Forbes Magazine. HIV positive since 1993, this complex figure has—regardless of political affiliation—been a vocal and visible advocate for gay rights.
Born Ryan Ong Palao in the Philippines, the androgynous drag performer Ongina remains one of the most beloved contestants ever to grace the runway of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Ongina came out as HIV positive after winning the first season’s MAC Viva Glam challenge and continues to excite fans with brave fashions and courageous statements on gender conceptions. Ongina served as a spokesmodel for MAC’s Viva Glam line of cosmetics, the proceeds of which benefit HIV/AIDS. This remarkable individual also hosted Logo’s web series “HIV + Me.”
Jack Mackenroth discovered his HIV status in 1990, well before joining the cast of Project Runway Season 4. After his stint with this popular show, he joined the “Living Positive by Design” campaign, which seeks to address stigma and help those living with HIV maintain a positive attitude.
Mackenroth has been a fashion and fitness model, and he worked as a designer for Tommy Hilfiger and Levis. This inspiring athlete also won the Bronze Medal in swimming at the Gay Games. In September 2012, he launched Volttage, a dating site for men living with HIV. Our hat is off to this go-getter.
Chris Richey & Scott McPherson
Realizing that 84 percent of 18–34 year-olds can be reached through social media, close friends Chris Richey and Scott McPherson founded the Stigma Project in February of 2012.
The groundbreaking program aims to break down HIV prejudice through art and education. The stated goal of this excellent team is to create an “HIV neutral” world—free of judgment and fear—with messages that are witty and funny, never preachy or heavy handed. Keep it up, Chris and Scott!
David France is a journalist, author of three revolutionary books, and winner of the 2007 GLAAD Media Award. He took a hiatus from his job as contributing editor for New York Magazine in order to write and direct “How to Survive a Plague.” This fascinating documentary of the ACT UP and TAG story shows how these organizations’ tireless activism helped transform AIDS from a death sentence into something manageable. Kudos to this amazingly influential activist—we look forward to his return to the written word.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and the author, co-author, or editor of over 1,000 scientific publications. This dedicated scientist has been instrumental in developing strategies for understanding immune systems and very influential in the search for a vaccine for HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Fauci’s contributions to the world of research have brought the HIV positive community a little closer to prevention and a cure—here’s hoping he continues to make progress for the HIV/AIDS community in his future scientific endeavors.
Regan Hofmann has been living with HIV since 1996. She came out publicly as HIV positive when she appeared on the cover of POZ above the words “I am no longer afraid to say I have HIV.”
Since then, she has served as Editor-in-Chief of POZ Magazine and America’s delegate to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. Hofmann also wrote a book about her experiences with HIV called “I Have Something to Tell You.” She recently relinquished her position as editorial director of Smart + Strong to pursue work closer to the front lines of HIV/AIDS prevention.
Dr. Marjorie Hill
The CEO of GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) in New York City, the country’s oldest HIV/AIDS crisis services organization, Dr. Hill helps provide essential services for thousands of men, women, and families impacted by HIV. She is the former Assistant Commissioner of New York City’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Hill has been a singularly dedicated combatant against HIV stigma. Her tireless work changes lives—and offers hope—to HIV positive individuals on a regular basis.
Comedian, actress, and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres was named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the U.S. Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness. Able to reach millions of people daily through her television show and followers on Facebook and Twitter, Ellen has used her platform to help raise awareness and combat stigma against the HIV positive and LGBT community. She regularly champions the cause and helps promote a world free of hate and full of hope.
The founder of Microsoft and one of the richest and most famous men in the world, Mr. Gates and his wife, Melinda, created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation, through its Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, is the world’s largest single private financier of anti-AIDS programs. With donations in the billions of dollars, the Gates’ philanthropy channels over 20 percent of the world’s funds to combat HIV/AIDS. Three cheers for this generous philanthropist and his monumentally important organization!
Helping to Change the Face of HIV
Through this slideshow, you have gotten to know 16 amazing people who are helping to change the face of HIV. Some of the individuals highlighted are living with the disease, and some are not. But the one common thread connecting these individuals together is that they refuse to give up and are fighting for awareness, acceptance, better treatments, and one day a cure.