Interior Health launched a new campaign today to encourage all adults in the region to get tested for HIV. The My Health Is Sexy campaign uses intimate images to convey the message that knowing your HIV status is an important part of a healthy sex life and a good relationship. Campaign materials include a website (www.MyHealthisSexy.com), as well as social media and print materials.
A statement from IH said Monday that the campaign is part of the province’s ground-breaking Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) program. The STOP HIV/AIDS program aims to reduce HIV transmission and improve the health outcomes of those living with HIV by offering widespread HIV testing, treatment, and early engagement into care.
About 3,500 are people living with HIV in BC and are unaware of their status. The campaign sets out to change this.
“Expanding HIV testing and treatment has proven to be the best way forward to fight HIV and AIDS,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said in the statement. “Innovative testing campaigns like this will help ensure we reach as many people as possible and engage them in the care they need.”
Today, people living with HIV and receiving treatment can expect to live longer, healthy lives free of symptoms. In fact, research has shown that an early diagnosis in combination with sustained antiretroviral therapy means HIV-positive people can expect to live up to an additional five and a half decades. In addition, sustained treatment can greatly reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission.
“There remains a great deal of stigma around HIV despite extraordinary advances in treatment,” Interior Health’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corneil said in the statement. “We hope this campaign will inspire people to take control of their health, be proactive in requesting an HIV test, and begin life-saving treatment if necessary.”
The first phase of the campaign promotes HIV testing for all adults with specific materials targeting men who have sex with men. Future campaign materials will target additional high prevalence populations including injection drug users and sex trade workers. The campaign is being supported by health outreach nurses, a mobile team that offers discreet and confidential testing for those who may not access testing in traditional locations.