In an unprecedented move, a new campaign created by Sydney’s Frost*Collective is encouraging gay men to drop their load to end HIV transmission.
This campaign stars comedian Tom Sainsbury and has been delivered by ‘Ending HIV’ – a community-focused behaviour change programme run by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) to reach men who have sex with men.
Says Michael Shaw, marketing manager for Ending HIV: “We’re unequivocally telling New Zealanders that if someone living with HIV has had an undetectable viral load for more than six months, HIV does not transmit through sex – even if condoms aren’t being used.”
An undetectable viral load is when the amount of HIV in a person’s blood is no longer able to be detected by a standard viral load test.
This latest message from Ending HIV is in support of the global U=U movement, which declares that Undetectable = Untransmittable.
Says Shaw: “Evidence has been mounting for a long time now and with every new study saying the same thing, we made the decision to make this statement.
“People are still using ‘unsafe’ as a synonym for ‘condomless’. That needs to change. We feel proud to tell New Zealanders that dropping their load has never been so risk- free.”
Kiwis will see this message popping up everywhere – on the radio during their morning drive to work, flicking through Grindr, or walking down main streets all over the country.
To spread the word further, Ending HIV have created 1,500 pun-filled cum rags, to educate about undetectable while loads are dropped.
Ending HIV are expecting complaints as some people will find this message a bit hard-hitting.
Says Shaw: “We’ll always ruffle a few feathers when we’re talking about sex. But we’re not going to end HIV by whispering about it.”
A 2014 study found that only 7% of Kiwis would be prepared to have a sexual relationship with someone living with HIV. Only 45% would be willing to eat food prepared by an HIV positive person.
For the 3500 New Zealanders living with HIV, this campaign will help tackle some of the stigma they still face, particularly within their own community.
Maintaining an undetectable viral load might not be possible for everyone who is diagnosed with HIV, even if they take their medication as prescribed. It is important that people living with HIV are not pressured or expected to have an undetectable viral load.
Regardless of achieving undetectable or not, getting on treatment early gives someone diagnosed with HIV the best change of leading a long and healthy life.
New Zealand AIDS Foundation (Ending HIV)
Michael Shaw, Marketing Manager
Anthony Walton, Marketing and Communications Lead
Trak Gray: Marketing Specialist
Production Company: Chillbox
Director: Gabriel Lunte
Media Agency: Mediacom