[dropcap]L[/dropcap]aunched in late November in time for World AIDS Day 2015, a new, progressive, and sex-positive campaign called Blue Ribbon Boys will engage men who have sex with men of all serostatuses in an effort to raise awareness about HIV and sexual health. MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM & HIV), the largest global, advocacy network focused on HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM), is partnering with popular gay social app Hornet for the largest targeted, global HIV viral suppression campaign to date, reaching over 7 million MSM. Blue Ribbon Boys is aligned with CDC and WHO guidelines and builds on the missions of both MSMGF and Hornet, which, in part, seek to help positive individuals access ARTs so that they may engage in care as early as possible, and encourage widespread access and education about PrEP among negative men. Drawing on the blue color of the pill used for PrEP and red-ribbon awareness, the ultimate goal of the campaign is HIV viral suppression across all communities worldwide. The BRB campaign is excited to be able to reach MSM in low and middle-income countries where barriers to care may exist but smart-phone use is popular, especially among young MSM, who at high risk for contracting HIV.
Via the app, the campaign will elicit all Hornet users to answer a short survey about their sexual health, touching on HIV and STI testing, antiretroviral treatment, PrEP, viral load, disclosure, stigma, condom and lubricant use, and other prevention methods. If their answers reveal a personal commitment to sexual health, they will be awarded a blue ribbon icon on their profile photo regardless of their HIV status, which is kept confidential. And so that the campaign doesn’t leave anyone behind, those who are not yet blue-ribbon-ready will receive judgment-free tips about ways to protect and improve their sexual health, such as regular testing, early and consistent use of ART, and up-t0-date information about local resources and services, among other information. Answers will be updated every three months in order to help app users stay on track and award new blue ribbons.
“Blue Ribbon Boys is important because it includes all men who have sex with men in the conversation about global HIV suppression, irrespective of HIV status. If we are going to curb the HIV epidemic, all of us have to participate. The responsibility is not just with HIV-positive guys as it has traditionally been framed,” says Jack Mackenroth, Senior Communications Officer, MSMGF.
If Hornet users find that they do not have access to treatment and prevention services, the campaign will invite them to take action by signing two global petitions calling for access to PrEP for negative men and access to antiretroviral medications for positive men.
As the campaign progresses, it will change and adapt as treatment and prevention methods improve and become available in different regions.
For more information, log on to: www.BlueRibbonBoys.org. As a special incentive to participate in BRB, Hornet is giving away free premium memberships to new users who sign up using this link http://hrnt.it/blueribbonboys during November and December. For more information about Hornet, log on to: www.hornetapp.com. For more information about MSMGF, log on to: www.msmgf.org.