We don’t watch much network TV at home anymore. So, I’m not used to seeing many traditional commercials, which is one of the many benefits of paid streaming services!

Recently, I was shocked and amazed (in a good way!) to start seeing commercials for HIV medications. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the biggest fan of the pharma industry, having drank the koolaid for 20 years. And I have mixed feeling about direct consumer marketing for pharmaceuticals in general. But, if we except that they are a part of our daily lives , then can you see how important is to have these commercials?

First, while we have made HUGE strides in the treatment and now prevention of HIV, it is still an EPIDEMIC. In fact last year, the US launched an effort to end the epidemic in the next 10 years. I’ve written on this effort elsewhere on this site, as Marion county, Indiana (where I live) is one of the affected counties. So, education and awareness is critical.

But more importantly on a social and emotional level, seeing “my disease” up there with cancer, IBS, eczema and ED somehow normalizes my situation. This is just another chronic health condition for which medication is required for healthy living. Seeing Alfonso, who like me is more than his HIV, helps me to feel less alone, less different. It oddly helps to remove some of the shame and stigma that I feel with this particular disease.

On another level, the commercial is critical because it is PUTTING INFORMATION IN FRONT OF PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT OTHERWISE HEAR IT. It’s a subtle (or not so subtle) education campaign for the general public. And, in the same way that it starts to normalize things for me, it indirectly helps others hear and see HIV and AIDS being talked about in everyday life.

So, next time you see that commercial for HIV treatment or prevention – I invite you to stop, and listen. If you’re with friends or family, maybe comment on it. See what happens! You never know what you or someone else might learn.

Thanks for listening. Keep telling the story!

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