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DHS news release

June 3, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contact: Mitch Zahn (503) 731-4029

HIV positive people play powerful roles in new prevention campaign

"I take responsibility for my life and my illness," says John, a 41-year-old-HIV-positive man who is featured in a new statewide HIV prevention campaign set for launch this month by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).

The campaign, "HIV STOPS WITH ME," will be unveiled on June 13 at 6 p.m. in Portland at the Panorama Nightclub, 1035 SW Stark Street, according to Mitch Zahn, HIV prevention manager in DHS.

"It takes enormous courage to stand up publicly and say, I have HIV and I’m not going to infect anyone new," said Zahn. "The power of this campaign is that it features Oregonians, speaking out to others who are infected about how they can stop this disease."

The campaign features four volunteers from Oregon communities most impacted by HIV; all will be present at the June 13 launch. They are Jeffery, a bisexual Caucasian; Jerry, an African-American; Chris, a young gay man living in Douglas County; and John, a former felon and crystal meth addict. As the campaign evolves, Latinos and women will also be included, Zahn said.

Funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the "HIV STOPS WITH ME" campaign began in San Francisco and is now in eight locations across the country. In addition to Oregon, the campaign will expand to Seattle on June 20.

Formal evaluations show the campaign has been successful in increasing personal responsibility among HIV-positive persons not infect others by modeling safe sexual behaviors and attitudes. San Francisco health officials say that HIV infections have leveled off and may actually be declining, and they credit "HIV STOPS WITH ME" as a contributing factor.

"HIV positive people want to do the right thing. This campaign gives them a chance to be part of the solution by taking responsibility to end the epidemic," said David Windt, vice president of Better World Advertising, the San Francisco-based company that created the campaign.

The campaign is on the Web and in newspapers, posters and postcards in selected locations across Oregon.

Participating agencies include Cascade AIDS Project, Brother to Brother, Multnomah County., Project Quest, Partnership Project, Outside In, HIV Alliance in Eugene, and HIV Resource Center in Roseburg.