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Depicting HIV/AIDS
The New Face of HIV/AIDS
Part 1

Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC's President, CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Dyak

EIC is proud to join forces with the Office on Women’s Health and The Well Project to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS among women and encourage you, the creative community, to explore this issue through authentic storylines that engage your audience. This is the first in a series of six newsletters that will explore HIV/AIDS and how it looks today. Old stereotypes and stigmas not only create shame for those diagnosed but they may even lead to individuals going undiagnosed because they feel as though they do not fit the profile.

HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that has defined decades and unfortunately it remains a topic that is vital we understand and continue to shine a light on today. The face of HIV/AIDS is changing and there is no typical person who is diagnosed, and although some populations may be disproportionately affected, everyone needs to become involved in efforts to increase awareness and understanding. Why? Because decades after it first appeared, HIV remains a significant cause of death. HIV is almost entirely preventable, but it continues to destroy lives because too many Americans don’t know their status or don’t have access to testing and treatment. Denial and stigma keep too many people from getting tested and sharing this life-saving information with others.

Just take a moment to think about one of your characters being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS today -- perhaps it is a young female honor student, a college co-ed or a soccer mom. These profiles definitely do not fit what many have come to see as an individual who would be likely to have HIV/AIDS, yet are very real examples of people living with HIV today. Now think about how that story could unfold: Who would they tell? How does this affect their decision to start a family?

These newsletters will provide you with the tools to explore rich storylines that have the ability to raise awareness about the new face of HIV/AIDS.

 In this issue...
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Did you know?
  • Profile On: Dawn Averitt (Real Story)
  • Suggestions for depicting HIV/AIDS
 Did you know?

  • More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) are unaware of their infection. [Source]
  • According to 2009 surveillance data 24% of all HIV adult and adolescent HIV infections are among females. Blacks and Latinas being are disproportionately affected when compared to women of other races/ethnicities. [Source]
Click here for more!
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March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!
Click here to learn more!
Click here to find out about events and get involved!

PRISM TrophyAnd the Nominees are...

Click here for a full listing of the 17th Annual PRISM Awards Nominees

  Profile On: Dawn Averitt [Real Story]

When I was diagnosed in 1988 I didn’t know another HIV-positive woman inDawn Averitt the world. I was 19 years old and none of my doctors even thought I needed to get tested until I pestered them into it. I thought I was just going to get my "HIV-negative card," but that turned out not to be the case. When my tests came back positive, my doctor advised me not to tell anyone because of how it could negatively impact my family. I instantly felt the shame and stigma that came with an HIV diagnosis.

I had no idea that there was an AIDS Community when I was diagnosed. Like so many women, I felt isolated and alone. Eventually, after five years, I found my way to a grassroots AIDS service organization and went to my first program for people with HIV. As I met others living with HIV, I realized how important it was for me to be able to share my story, to feel connected to my community and to give back to others. I learned that normalizing HIV for women was, and is, the key to dismantling the shame and stigma. It helps to engage the American public in the fight against HIV, and ultimately, prevent the disease in our friends, families and communities.

The stigma of an HIV diagnosis still exists because most people believe that HIV only happens to certain types of people. We all have a role to play in stopping new infections by knowing our own HIV status, practicing safer sex, helping those who are HIV-positive access and succeed in treatment and care, and dispelling myths about whose problem this really is anyway? Wow, what a difference we all could make.

This is an excerpt.
Click here to read the full article.

 Suggestions for Depicting HIV/AIDS

Dawn Averitt mentions that stigma still persists because people believe that HIV only happens to certain types of people and, unfortunately, this stigma can hold people back from getting tested. When creating your characters and storylines that involve HIV/AIDS consider the following suggestions:

  • The CDC recently made a recommendation for universal HIV testing to help decrease the stigma surrounding getting tested. In your stories remember that there is no ‘typical patient.’ Consider ways that you can showcase someone getting tested for HIV and STDs even though their peers or parents tell them they are not at risk due to gender, race, or sexual orientation.
  • If appropriate, look for opportunities to include scenes where a medical professional will ask a woman if she has been tested for HIV. If the answer is no, have the physician suggest that she get tested as part of a normal check-up along with other STD screenings.
  • Where possible, think about ways to include safe sex behavior like using barrier protection and couples discussing getting tested for STDs like HIV/AIDS.

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EIC's FREE Technical Assistance Resource 
to the Creative Community!

To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation with one of our experts contact Ashley Jupin: 
or 818-861-7782
17th Annual PRISM Awards
The 17th Annual PRISM Awards are set to take place on April 25, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel
Click here to learn more!
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Dr. Drew Pinsky hosts the
16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase!
The 16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase is available online at and

Click here for excerpts from this year's show and check out for updates!

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