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.
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.
In B.C., it is estimated that approximately 3,500 are people living with HIV 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,” said Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer for B.C. “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,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “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.
For more information on the campaign, visit: MyHealthisSexy.com.
Interior Health is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and providing a wide range of quality health-care services to more than 742,000 people living across B.C.’s vast interior. For more information, visit www.interiorhealth.ca.