'Many shades' campaign urges HIV testing
by Seth Hemmelgarn
San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the city's health department, and others have released a multimedia campaign encouraging gay and bisexual men to test regularly for HIV.
The Many Shades of Gay campaign launched Tuesday, June 12. Not to be confused with the bestselling book, 50 Shades of Grey , about erotic straight sex, it features a website that allows people to create avatars, or digital versions of themselves, by choosing from a variety of hairstyles, clothes, body shapes, and accessories from tattoos to shoes.
Once an avatar is created, it informs the user about the importance of regular HIV testing and helps them to find the nearest testing location. The site also includes a channel for HIV-positive men that provides health information and resources to connect them to HIV treatment and care.
SFAF spokesman James Loduca said that he and others involved in the campaign "want to focus on how wonderful and diverse our community is, and communicate that regardless of who you are, where you come from, what you look like, or what you're into, there's many ways to be gay, but you need to get an HIV test every six months."
Tracey Packer, the acting director of HIV prevention at the health department, said in a statement from SFAF that her agency and others have "worked hard in the past year to scale up the number of HIV tests offered throughout San Francisco, and Many Shades of Gay is the kind of bold, attention-getting campaign we need to increase demand for those tests."
The advertising agency ATTIK is providing pro bono creative development for the campaign, according to SFAF.
To see the campaign and create an avatar, visit www.ManyShadesOfGay.org.