Sounds of silence

Mar 23, 2004

Whew. I made it. The weblogs seminar went well (highlights here), I completed a first draft of my thesis (at 10,000 words) and the final event in the Narratives of HIV series, though sparsely attended, was a great success tonight. Kimberly Smolen, one of the four HIV-positive individuals featured in the documentary Voices of HIV, spoke about her life, addictions, infection, recovery and spirituality. “Don’t listen to my story and compare yourself out,” she said. “Compare yourself in.” Her message, and that of Patrick Lee of the Piedmont HIV Health Care Consortium, is that HIV can happen to anyone. “HIV has to fall off our lips,” said Lee in arguing that the only way to stop the epidemic is to make HIV a commonplace of our daily conversation. Our third guest tonight, Jim Williams of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, has a brilliant way of doing that. Williams is a former advertising executive who found his way to social marketing and public health. He created the Red Ribbon Question Mark Campaign. At lunch, he gave me a lapel pin with the question mark, and in the few hours between lunch and the event tonight, three people asked me what the symbol represented. That gave me an opportunity to ask each of them if they’d been tested for HIV, which is what Williams wants from his campaign. One key way to stop the spread of HIV is for everyone to know your status. Get tested, please.

Anton Zuiker

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