New York - The National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) and a consortium of leading U.S. companies mobilized by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GBC), are coordinating a nationwide HIV/AIDS awareness campaign targeting gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) - the only major group in the US for whom the annual number of new HIV infections continues to increase.
The awareness and education effort kicks off this weekend when NAPWA and its partners hold the 2nd Annual National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on September 27. NAPWA is mobilizing its network of community-based organizations (CBOs) and AIDS service organizations (ASOs) to reach out to their communities in order to raise awareness and encourage gay and bisexual men to get tested. In addition, GBC has mobilized the efforts of leading companies including MTV, NBA, Facebook and celebrities like Kenneth Cole, Perez Hilton and John Amaechi to spread the word and encourage people to get tested and raise people's awareness of the disease's continued threat.
"In order to effectively combat HIV and AIDS, we need to engage local governments, the business community, as well as the general public in the fight," said Frank Oldham, Jr., President and CEO of NAPWA. "We are heartened by the level of participation exhibited by our partners in this year's event, and encourage many more to get involved."
This year's observance has taken on a new sense of urgency in light of a recently released CDC fact sheet which reveal that while new infections have declined among both heterosexuals and Intravenous Drug Users (IDUs), the annual number of new HIV infections among MSM has been increasing steadily since the early 1990s.
- MSM account for nearly half of the more than one million people living with HIV in the U.S. (48%, or an estimated 532,000 total persons)
- MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year (53% of the total 56,400 new infections, or an estimated 28,700 infections)
According to the CDC, regular HIV testing is a critically important way to reduce the burden of HIV among MSM. Individuals who are aware of their HIV infection are more likely to take steps to protect their partners from becoming infected. A study of MSM in five U.S. cities found extremely high levels of infection among MSM, and many of those infected did not know it.
The campaign also is part of GBC's U.S. HIV Initiative, which brings business expertise and infrastructure to the fight against HIV that will make a dramatic difference in the effectiveness of governments and ASO prevention programs. The Coalition engages the skills, resources and reach of multiple private sector, government, NGO and individual partners to reach thousands of at-risk people across the nation with critical, life-saving education and prevention messages.
"The commitment of these companies, combined with the work of partners like NAPWA and CDC, will make a critical difference in the fight to defeat HIV/AIDS," said John Newsome, Vice President, U.S. Impact Initiative for GBC. "This is not standard-issue corporate philanthropy. This is more impactful. These companies are doing what they know how to do better than anyone else, all of it dramatically expanding our ability to reach millions of vulnerable people with life-saving educational messages."
For National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, companies are working in close collaboration with NAPWA and CDC on several media campaigns that complement existing public education efforts, helping to ensure that individuals will be directed to quality sources of information, including:
Arranged for celebrity blogger Perez Hilton to publish post promoting National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the importance of testing and awareness in general
Featuring its well-known "Marcus" PSA on Facebook, and promoting its "Get Yourself Tested" page on the MTV's "It's Your Sex Life" page
Provided expert social networking guidance in designing and promoting the "National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day" Facebook page (http://tinyurl.com/updateyourstatus).
National Basketball Association
Arranged for former NBA player John Amaechi to publish a blog post promoting National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the importance of testing and awareness in general
Will publish a post with amfAR on Awearness.com promoting National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the importance of testing and awareness in general
Young & Rubicam
Donating pro-bono services to design banner ads promoting National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
NAPWA is the representative voice of the one million plus Americans living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Founded in 1983, NAPWA is the world's oldest coalition of people living with AIDS, as well as the oldest national AIDS organization. NAPWA provides community education and leadership trainingfor people living with HIV. Among the programs NAPWA has developed are National HIV Testing Day, AIDSWatch, the Ryan White Youth Conferences and the Staying Alive Conference. For more information, please visit www.napwa.org.
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