Ready for a casting call? ACRIA, an organization devoted to HIV advocacy, education and research, is looking for people age 50 to 70 to appear in the 2014 edition of its NYC ad campaign, Age Is Not a Condom.The campaign promotes the use among older people of what we used to call birth control and should now be calling STD/HIV protection. The deadline for RSVPs to the casting call is January 29.
There’s been a rise in new HIV cases among older adults of all orientations in the past several years. The reason? Too many of us, having come of age in the pre-AIDS era, are poorly educated in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases – but many of us are still sexually active. We think, “I don’t need to guard against pregnancy any more, so why bother.” Wrong! See Senior Planet’s story about rising HIV rates among older adults by clicking here.
“We hope the campaign will encourage people to talk to their doctors about sexual concerns; we’re saying it’s OK to talk about your sexuality even if you’re over 50,” Hanna Tessema, HIV Older Adults Technical Assistance Manager at ACRIA, told us. “The more we make this a taboo subject, there’s a lot of missed opportunity to have people develop more understanding of risk behaviors.”
ACRIA, which was founded in 1991 to speed up the search for new treatments (the organization’s scientists have helped develop 20 FDA-approved drugs to date) launched its first bus shelter and payphone campaign in 2011, and ran it again in New York City in 2012. The campaign encourages older men and women to practice safer sex and get tested for HIV. (See Senior Planet’s tips for practicing safer sex in older age by clicking here.)
According to Tessema, the organization’s previous campaigns have at least sparked discussion in the community about older people and HIV.
This year’s campaign, which is due to launch in May, will be created by journalist/photographer Katja Heinemann and health educator Naomi Schegloff, of the Brooklyn-based Graying of Aids project.
For Age Is Not a Condom, ACRIA and the Graying of Aids team are looking for couples and men of all orientations, and transgender women, between the ages of 50 and 70. This campaign will focus mainly on African American and Latino people, but will include other older New Yorkers as well. You should feel comfortable with the idea of being photographed and depicted partially nude, or with implied nudity – and you don’t need supermodel looks. “We want to have real New Yorkers in the shoot,” Tessema says, “People who you might look at and say, ‘That could be me.'”
If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org by January 29.