Jack Mackenroth Strikes Again With “HIV EQUAL” Campaign

The word is out. Media Master, HIV Advocate and Project Runway contestant, Jack Mackenroth and celebrity photographer, Thomas Evans announced their new campaign to end the stigma and misconceptions surrounding HIV education, HIV testing and HIV status, on Oct. 15.

Developed on behalf of World Health Clinicians (WHC), “HIV EQUAL,” will engage people through social media, photo activism and celebrity role models, like Broadway star Nick Adams (“La Cage Aux Folles,” “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”), Congressman Jim Himes, AIDS and gay rights activist Peter Staley, Tony Award winning actor/singer Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots”), and drag superstar Bianca Del Rio, among others.

Similar photo-activism efforts like the “NOH8” campaign, created by celebrity/fashion photographer Adam Bouska, have previously been successful in promoting equality.

“Our tag line on every photo is ‘Everybody has an HIV status. We are all HIV Equal.’ And then as a play on the word ‘status,’ an individualized caption at the bottom with read ‘STATUS: ______’; each model picks a descriptive word that exemplifies part of their personality, illustrating that who we are as people is much more important than an HIV status,” Mackenroth added.

Mackenroth has been living with HIV for 24 years and experienced HIV stigma firsthand. Those experiences led him on a path of HIV Advocacy and most recently onto the WHC team.

“When I was brought on board at World Health Clinicians, media director and photographer, Thomas Evans already had the idea of doing an anti-stigma photo campaign that involved an HIV testing initiative and eventually a PSA series,” Mackenroth said. “I came up with ‘HIV Equal’ after thinking about how we are so stigmatized and judged by the labels ‘HIV positive’ and ‘HIV negative,’ and I wanted to create a term that fights the stigma and illustrates that we are all equally valuable regardless of personal HIV status,” he said.

Though the word is out and the first photos have saturated social media already, the campaign officially launches on Oct. 26 as part of WHC’s LGBT wellness event, in Norwalk, CT.

“I collaborated with Thomas on the look of the photos because we wanted a very signature look that was recognizable but had not been done before. First we designed the magenta ‘HIV=’ logo and we loved the color on a black backdrop. Thomas was experimenting with different lighting and when we tried the magenta glow in the background we were both like, ‘That’s it,’” Mackenroth said.

People who sign up to take a photo, also take a confidential HIV test administered by an on-hand health professional, to help end the fear of testing and promote status awareness. If a person does test positive counseling is received along with resources for health care.

Evans added, “It’s really a call to action for everyone to know their status because now we have the tools to treat HIV and to stop transmission. By getting tested these individuals are showing love for themselves and the greater community.”

The launch event is just the beginning of a what will become a mobile multi-city HIV-testing/photo campaign. The next shoot comes to Los Angeles in December and will descend on cities like San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, DC or wherever there is a need.

“We are solely supported by World Health Clinicians right now,” Mackenroth said, “but we would love to partner with a company like Oraquick or another organization that could really help us expand the anti-stigma messaging and get even more people tested!!”

To learn more about HIV Equal, please visit www.HIVequal.org
World Health Clinicians, Inc. (WHC) is a U.S.-based non-profit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization founded in September 2010 by U.S. HIV/AIDS specialists Dr. Gary Blick and Executive Director Scott Gretz, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in the developed and developing world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

%d bloggers like this: