“I am a Work of ART” Joins the Thousands of Participants of the AIDS 2022 Conference in Montreal, Canada
“I am a Work of ART,” the national viral suppression campaign recently launched by the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP), was introduced to an international community of researchers, practitioners, advocates, and people with HIV at the International AIDS Society’s AIDS 2022 conferenceExit Disclaimer in Montreal earlier this month.
The vibrant, life-affirming campaign encourages people with HIV who are not in care, or in and out of care, to seek care, get into care, and achieve viral suppression through antiretroviral therapy, also known as ART. Playing off of the dual meaning of “art,” the campaign encourages people to find a provider that is right for them by visiting HIV.gov/ART so they can, as one of the campaign’s creative partners says, “stay healthy and untransmittable so we can have the freedom to pursue our passions.”
The campaign was first introduced to AIDS 2022 in the Global Village and Youth ProgrammeExit Disclaimer during a hybrid session with conference participants joining both in person and virtually. The session explored innovative community engagement strategies used in viral suppression campaigns seeking to re-engage people in marginalized communities.
Assistant Secretary for Health, ADM Rachel Levine, MD, opened the session with her personal perspective on the journey from the early years of the HIV epidemic to today, where viral suppression through ART is now a reality for millions of people with HIV. B. Kaye Hayes, MPA, Director of OIDP and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease, then took the podium to introduce the “I am a Work of ART” campaign, highlighting how the national viral suppression campaign helps to fill the gap in public education campaigns by focusing on engaging people with HIV who are not in care.
Director Hayes highlighted the co-creation of the campaign with a diverse group of people with HIV—the campaign’s creative partners—who share their experiences of getting into HIV care, starting ART, and achieving and maintaining viral suppression, helping them to live healthy lives. (See Director Hayes talking with HIV.gov about the “I am a Work of ART” campaign in this video conversationExit Disclaimer at AIDS 2022.)
Co-creation was at the heart of developing “I am a Work of ART,” and the campaign team was able to feature the stories of our creative partners at the AIDS 2022 conference by premiering a video of them telling their stories during a roundtable discussion in Miami, FL, on June 18. In this video, each of the creative partners talk about their journey from diagnosis to living life as a work of ART because they have achieved viral suppression, with HIV being undetectable and therefore untransmittable (U=U).
The U=U message was launched in 2016 by the Prevention Access Campaign and has been communicated widely by medical, scientific, and public health institutions worldwide. During AIDS 2022, it was announced that the U.S. Federal Government has adopted U=U to further guide HIV treatment and prevention efforts. This announcement means that the U=U message will be embedded in the nation’s policy and programming efforts across the board. See ONAP’s Harold Phillips discuss “I am a Work of ART” and the U.S. Government’s adoption of U=U at AIDS 2022.
During the Global Village Q&A facilitated by Dr. Tammy Henry, senior training and technical assistance specialist with the campaign team, participants shared their various perspectives based on their work in in Australia, South Africa, and the U.S. In fact, as one participant pointed out, a similar campaign that plays on the dual meaning of ART, “Modern ART Across South AfricaExit Disclaimer,” is currently being implemented by the Treatment Action Campaign and HIV i-Base UK with funding from Unitaid.
Finally, the “I am a Work of ART” campaign was a part of the U.S. Government/U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) exhibit in the conference exhibit hall. Eye-catching panels featuring two of the campaign’s models—Jasmine and TBoy—helped draw participants to the booth. Dr. Tammy Henry and Patrick Cook, senior communication manager with the campaign team, guided visitors through the campaign and, in the scheduled “ask the expert” session on August 1st, fielded questions about the fundamentals of the campaign, how it was developed, and its current implementation status.
The “I am a Work of ART” campaign is currently in eight cities across the country—Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Tulsa, and Washington, DC—as well as in other communities focused on viral suppression among people with HIV. But anyone from any community can use the campaign’s messages and materials to encourage viral suppression. Campaign materials feature 10 different creative partners and include video and audio public service announcements, posters, and flyers, as well as rack and business cards. In the coming months, the campaign will release new campaign materials in Spanish to broaden the focus of the campaign.
If you are looking for a provider in your area to start ART or if you are looking for more information about the campaign or to download materials, please visit HIV.gov/ART.