My HIV Diary: Face of HIV, Week 27

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Ryan Dixon

Ryan Dixon (a.k.a former porn star Kameron Scott) has started taking HIV medication. He’s keeping a diary of his experience.

Being in my mid-20’s isn’t easy, add HIV on top of that and we have one hell of a complicated life. I’m making the best out of the hand life has dealt me and the decisions I’ve made along the way. Writing helps free my mind. Hopefully these words will help you understand the plight of others like myself, and inspire you to live each and every day in the moment.

Week 26 (March 1 – March 7)

I’m excited today. Not only am I about to reach day 200 in my medicine study, but I just had the opportunity to meet some amazing people who are passionate about HIV treatment and what being positive is really all about.

I just participated in a photo shoot for an advertising company based out of New York. They were shooting ads for the pharmaceutical company Merck. Merck has created the first in a new class of drugs called integrase inhibitors. The brand name of the drug is Isentress. It has only been on the market since 2007, making it a fairly new drug to help combat HIV. It works best when combined with other anti-retrovirals. Isentress had a campaign in the past that showed four people in difference poses in black and white with magenta trimming. I’ve seen tons of advertisements for HIV drugs and not just from working for SFGN. I like to think I’ve done my study of different medications and what each one does in the last four years. One thing I have noticed about ads for HIV drugs, they only seem to want to show you a beautiful face. HIV is so much more than that.

I was pleased to find out the Isentress shoot wasn’t just going to be me standing by myself, but rather it placed me in a scene with two other people. We were “shoppin,” I think we actually did enjoy each others’ company. We held conversations about the same French cuff shirts while the photographer snapped away. The shots showed people in real life, not just posed on a white background and then superimposed into an ad. My feeling is that this ad will do more than just advertise a pill. It will show people that HIV affects everyone, but that people live completely normal lives with the help of medication.

I often get messages online and in person that people can’t believe that I’m HIV positive. I never know how to respond. Is there a certain face of HIV that I don’t know about? Do people still believe that HIV is just something that only older gay men have?  I don’t really understand what people really think of HIV, outside of getting told I’m disgusting online. I’m hoping this new campaign will show people that HIV is something we can all relate to.

It’s not the HIV of the 80’s anymore. I just wish people could see it.