For World AIDS Day TheBody.com has launched The Red Reminds Me photo contest to help fight the stigma of living with HIV. They’re asking readers to share a photo that incorporates the color red, while sharing their opinions about the current state of HIV and how it affects them using the hashtag #RedRemindsMe on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

“Every year we do something for World AIDS Day,” said Mathew Rodriguez, community editor for the TheBody.com. “This year we wanted to do something more interactive. It’s our first social media campaign.”

Rodriguez hopes that the campaign will bring awareness to the stigma of HIV as well as help get people talking about the virus.

“Yes I do think there is still a stigma,” he said. “There is still a lot of fear surrounding it.”

One of the participants in the photo contest this year is Jack Mackenroth, long time HIV activist and former project runway contestant.

“I think the stigma has actually become worse as the treatments have improved. It's a catch-22. Stigma and discrimination are only dispelled when there is education and visibility. We know this to be true by looking at the improved acceptance of LGBT folks as we came out and became your family, your friends, your neighbors and people you saw in popular culture,” he said. “There is really not much incentive today for an HIV positive person be public about his or her status. The medications are so good that, when treated early, you can expect to live a pretty normal life. New studies show that if you are undetectable you aren't even contagious so you aren't putting others at risk either. We are stuck in a difficult spot. It would be great if everyone who was HIV positive would be open about it because then you would see just how many of us there are. But I don't see that happening any time soon so the judgment and misinformation are just left alone to grow and become more intense.”

The contest lasts through Dec. 12. After that public voting will take place from Dec. 13 to 31. The three most creative photos will be announced the week of Jan. 12. One grand prize winner who will be awarded two tickets to the Lifebeat pre-VMA Concert plus the cost of the flight and hotel.

Visit TheBody.com for more information.


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