If I were sero-positive . . . would you?
Montrealer Ken Monteith on a COCQ-SIDA French language campaign that challenges attitudes towards people living with HIV
(left) Ken Monteith:: Would you appreciate my sense of humour as much if I were seropositive?
This week marks the launch of the second edition of a campaign by the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lute contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA) aimed at sensitizing the public to the stigmatization lived by people living with HIV. The campaign aims to mobilize the public to participate through a Facebook application that allows individuals to insert their own images and reflections into the campaign, but has also mobilized some of Québec's biggest names in sport and entertainment.
In last year's first edition, actress Véronique Cloutier, former politician and talk radio host Mario Dumont, fitness guru Josée Lavigeur and star athlete Chantal Petitclerc lent their thoughts and their images to the campaign. In addition, more than 3,500 individuals took the time to make and share their own posters through Facebook and a number of media outlets picked up the story and ran with it.
All four have agreed to continue this year, with some interesting additions: athlete Alexandre Despatie (Right. Translation: Would you follow my performances if I were seropositive?), social media expert Michelle Blanc, television personalities Alexandra Diaz and Marie-Soleil Michon and sports commentator and former Alouette Matthieu Proulx.
The beauty of this campaign lies in its simplicity. With a simple question, one puts into sharp relief the ridiculousness of the common fears and prejudices that people living with HIV have to face each day, but does it gently. One of my personal favourites from last year was a pregnant woman who posted her photo with the question "Would you be as happy for me if I were seropositive?" I found that spontaneous expression of solidarity particularly touching.
I have to admit that I found the challenge of participating particularly daunting in my own case: how to communicate a message on theme when I am pretty publicly positive? I found my way, and found another way this year, answering my own questions with an affirmation in the photo caption on Facebook.
So how about you? What are you particularly known for among your friends? Would they react the same way if you were seropositive?
The question bears asking.
Try the Facebook application
Visit the campaign blog (in French)
Like the COCQ-SIDA Facebook page
Here are some more images from the campaign . .
Véronique Cloutier :Would you want to become my friend if I were seropositive?
Mario Dumont : Would you listen to my opinions if I were seropositive?
Josée Lavigueur : Would you work out with me if I were seropositive?
Chantal Petitclerc : Would as many of you cheer me on if I were seropositive?
Alexandra Diaz : Would you let your children play with mine if I were seropositive?
Marie-Soleil Michon : Would you take me off the list if I were seropositive?
Mattieu Proulx : Would you trust my sports analysis if I were seropositive?
Michelle Blanc : Would you accept my advice if I were seropositive?