Blue Ribbon Boys is a global initiative to educate, empower, and activate gay men and other men who have sex with men around HIV treatment and prevention and sexual health
Blue Ribbon Boys is a progressive, sex-positive campaign that provides and opportunity for the global community hook-up app users to be engaged around their sexual health. This campaign is a partnership between MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM and HIV) and the gay social networking app, Hornet. It’s particularly innovative because it is inclusive of all men who have sex with men (MSM) regardless of HIV status. The campaign will reach 9 million MSM around the world using mobile technology and modern messaging. Blue Ribbon Boys advocates unobstructed access to quality health care for all MSM, early initiation of antiretroviral medications for those living with HIV, and widespread use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as HIV prevention among HIV-negative MSM. Blue Ribbon Boys understands that profound barriers persist in regards to HIV treatment and prevention for MSM and a goal for the campaign is to create momentum for a global movement around the human right that is gay men’s health.
Blue Ribbon Boys primarily functions as a survey in the Hornet app and prompts users to answer a short series of yes or no questions about their sexual health. All participants will be eligible to receive a blue ribbon icon on their profile photo signifying their personal commitment gay men’s health and wellness. Additionally they will be encouraged to take action around their health, such as taking an HIV test or signing onto a petition calling for universal access to HIV treatment and prevention for all MSM. Participants will also be able to interact with other Blue Ribbon Boys by searching the hashtag #BlueRibbonBoys or by sharing their photos across all social media platforms.
Blue Ribbon Boys is launching at a time when scientific advancements have created new and exciting opportunities for HIV treatment and prevention yet around the globe gay men continue to be criminalized, encounter harassment and violence, and endure stigma and isolation. Blue Ribbon Boys is meant to empower and affirm gay men around their sexuality and identity. Too often campaigns for gay men are fear or shame-based and are created without an authentic understanding of gay men’s lives or sexualities. Developed by and for men who have sex with men, Blue Ribbon Boys understand that knowledge is power and educating gay men about sexual health, HIV treatment, and the full range of prevention options is a key step to empowering gay men individually and strengthening the larger community. Young gay men around the world are severely impacted by HIV and as we continue to see a rise in new infections among young gay men they must be prioritized. Hornet is in a unique position to deliver health messages to young gay men as over 50% of the user community is under the age of 26. .
The goal of Blue Ribbon Boys is to educate, empower and activate gay men and other men who have sex with men around the globe.
- Educate gay men around the globe about HIV testing, advancements in treatment and prevention options.
- Empower gay men with knowledge of how they can take charge of their health and determine what health strategies work best for them
- Activate gay men to become active participants in the global community so they may advocate for increased access to care and treatment and work to reduce LGBT an HIV-related stigma and discrimination
To accomplish this, Hornet users are informed about:
- The important of regular HIV and STI testing;
- Daily PrEP as a prevention option for HIV-negative men and the importance of removing barriers to access
- Early and consistent use of antiretroviral medications for men who are living with HIV and the significance of maintaining an undetectable viral load (TasP)
- The primary function of treatment is for the health and wellness of the HIV-positive individual. The secondary function of treatment is as prevention
- The benefits of condoms and lubricant during anal sex especially when PrEP is not available
- The available resources in their region. Hornet is working closely with APCOM in Thailand.
Survey participants will be directed two global petitions which they can sign and share. One petition demands global access to PrEP and the other demands global access antiretroviral treatment. Guys who become Blue Ribbon Boys are standing proudly as global advocates for HIV treatment and prevention and sexual health. Each are participants in a global movement that demands bold action in our response to HIV and recognizes the value of the lives and sexuality of gay men and the critical importance in investing in our health and wellness.
Globally, Hornet has a community of over 9 million users, and is the leading gay app in many countries where HIV is concentrated among MSM. Hornet is the most popular gay app in Thailand , Brazil, Turkey, Russia, France, Egypt and the Philippines and has quickly growing markets in Latin America, Asia, and parts of Africa. Hornet prides itself on innovating the most advanced platform interface with constant updates to improve the user experience. Hornet recognizes the unique opportunity that social networking apps present in ongoing efforts to improve the health and wellness of gay men around the globe. Hornet was made famous for its Know Your Status Campaign. This groundbreaking approach for engaging gay men grows out of Hornet’s understanding that apps like Hornet build community and community is good for your heath.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is HIV?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can attack the immune system and lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
What is ARV treatment?
ARV (anti-retroviral) medications treat HIV. The drugs do not cure the virus. However, when taken in combination they can prevent the replication of HIV.
Standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. The World Health Organizations recommends immediate ARV treatment for all HIV-positive people.
The goal of ARV is to move viral load down, ideally to undetectable levels. In general, a viral load is declared “undetectable” if it is under 40 to 75 copies in a sample of blood.
What is “viral load”?
Viral load is the term used to describe the amount of HIV in the blood. The more HIV there is in the blood, the higher the viral load. ARV treatment can drastically reduce viral load.
What does “undetectable” mean?
A level of a person’s HIV viral load in their blood is what causes them to be more or less likely to transmit the disease. An undetectable viral load drastically reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission.
The goal of ARV treatment is to decrease viral load, ideally to undetectable levels. In general, a viral load will be declared “undetectable” if it is under 40 to 75 copies in a blood sample.
What is PrEP?
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. People who do not have HIV take anti-viral medication to prevent HIV infection. These are some of the same medicines used to keep the virus under control in people who are already living with HIV.
What is an STI?
A Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) is an infection that can be passed on through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most STIs are transmitted through the exchange of sexual fluids, but some can be passed on through skin to skin genital contact.
For more information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions please visit BlueRibbonBoys.org