Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kiss & Tell on Valentine's Day said GMHC to Young Gay Men - Launch of Citywide HIV Prevention Campaign

photo by Mike Ruiz
On Valentine's Day, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) launched a citywide HIV prevention campaign, "Kiss & Tell." The campaign was developed in partnership with adolescents aged 13 to 19, and encourages young black and Latino gay and bisexual men to have open and loving discussions with partners (the people they kiss) about their sexual history and HIV status.  The youth who created the campaign are part of GMHC's youth leadership-development program, CLUB1319 which now has its own The program provides HIV prevention education, social networking, skills training, and opportunities to participate in developing social marketing campaigns such as "Kiss & Tell."

The campaign emerged from reflection on the US military's anti-gay "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy.  It is a play on words that disempowers DADT by replacing it with something positive.

"The Kiss & Tell campaign underscores the message that the lives of young black and Latino gay men are valued and not dispensable," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "In GMHC's 30th year, we remain committed to ending health disparities for youth and highlighting what is possible for young gay couples as they express trust, respect and commitment for one another."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent data show that between 2006 and 2009, the number of new infections that occur each year increased among young gay men by an alarming 48 percent. New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports a 50% rise in new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men under the age of 30.

This campaign features the renowned work of celebrity photographer, Mike Ruiz who donated his time to take photos for the promotional materials.

"Recognizing how difficult it was for me to find my way through my teenage years as a gay youth, I think it is vitally important that all LGBT youth have a source of support and guidance," said Mike Ruiz. "The Kiss & Tell campaign embodies this ideal. Therefore, there was no way I could not have participated in lending all my support to this essential project."

The materials will be distributed throughout New York City on subway trains, community venues and social media sites. 

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