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Creator of #weareALLclean campaign responds to hashtag critics

2014-11-30
we_are_all_cleanThe creator of the #weareALLclean HIV/AIDS campaign has responded to critics who suggested the wording of the hashtag could be seen as derogatory. Jack Mackenroth – who is HIV positive himself – launched the campaign this week with the hope that supporters will strip for the HIV Shower Challenge, with all the money raised going towards the Housing Works, a charity dedicated to ending HIV/AIDS and homelessness globally by 2030. Shortly after the campaign was launched, some critics complained that the #weareALLclean hashtag implied that those with HIV/AIDS are "dirty" or "unclean." Now, Mackenroth - who rose to fame on US reality series Project Runway - has responded to the criticism, exclusively telling attitude.co.uk that the hashtag "means the exact opposite," and is meant to show that everyone is equal regardless of HIV status. Read his full statement below:
The hashtag "#weareALLclean" illustrates we are ALL equal regardless of our HIV status or our race, age, sexual orientation or gender identity. If we are ALL clean then NO ONE is dirty. The word "clean" is often used to describe oneself as STI free or HIV-negative, thus implying HIV-positive people are somehow "dirty". I am rebuking that label. I have been living with HIV for 25 years and I understand the associated stigma very well. This campaign is an effort to allow others to participate and add their voices to an important movement. I am not singling out any one group of people. Some of the folks in the photos are HIV-positive, most are not I assume. In the U.S. there has also been a LOT of participation by women and people of colour. I hope EVERYONE participates and if they don't want to soap up they can always just donate and nominate others as well. HIV is a global epidemic that is only growing but we are closer to a cure every day. For those who think the idea of selfies for a cause is ill conceived, I never claimed that it was highbrow art or militant activism. But we all know sex sells and I wanted a fun hook that would get people's attention and was easy for people to execute. To date the campaign has been translated into over 10 languages in dozens of outlets around the world in less than one week, so something is working. A great marketing campaign is either sexy, funny, controversial or all of the above. The HIV Shower Selfie Challenge has already been a huge success, regardless of the money raised, because it has prompted tens of thousands of conversations about HIV around the world, especially among young people, where the transmission rate has actually increased over the last decade.
To get involved and make a difference on World Aids Day tomorrow (December 1), you can find out all the information on the campaign's website here. Clarkson2