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Miami man, 22, debuts in HIV+Me video campaign from Logo, the gay MTV network

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

onginajesse Logo, the gay-oriented MTV network, this week launched a video featuring a young man from Miami, part of a long-term public service campaign called HIV+ME.

“The stigma is the biggest thing about HIV,” Jesse Sanchez, 22, says in the HIV+ME video. “Yeah, you can treat it. Yeah people are understanding that you're not going to die, that you're not contagious from drinking out of my cup, but the stigma that surrounds HIV is horrible.”

Sanchez’s video is one of eight currently on Logo’s website. About four more videos are in the pipeline, said Logo producer Adam Abernathy, who supervises the project.

“Logo likes to speak to gay issues – not that HIV is a gay issue, but it certainly is an important one for our community,” Abernathy said. “The whole purpose of the campaign is two very specific caveats: If you don't know your status we want you to be tested. And if you are HIV positive, we want you to know you're not alone.”

The HIV+ME videos are hosted by Ongina, a former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, who came out on the show as HIV positive.

“Ongina talks to people about their experience with HIV,” Abernathy said. “It starts with the day you received your status, up until today. We don't go into how you got it, that's your own personal story.

Abernathy said that although “HIV is a very manageable disease … we want people to know is that it's easier to be HIV negative.”

“It's a struggle,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning.”

Sanchez did the video interview a few months ago, when he was visiting New York City.

He learned his HIV status in 2007 at age 19. A month later, Sanchez told his story to Poz magazine.

Sanchez volunteered to record an HIV+ME video after hearing about the public-service series through friend Robert Breining, who runs poziam.com, a social-networking site for people who are HIV positive.

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Great video. Jesse I miss you and love you! Thank you for doing what you do! Amazing stuff!

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