Hudson County HIV prevention program is reaching out to young, queer men of color

AIDS Ribbon held in hand

Hyacinth’s Health Equals Wealth initiative seeks to empower the community

Hyacinth Foundation has launched a new marketing initiative called Health Equals Wealth. It is a campaign that reaches out to young, queer men of color to encourage testing and preventative treatments for HIV and is funded by the Center for Disease Control. The initiative shifts the narrative by talking about these treatment practices as self-care; showing young men that getting tested and adhering to preventative treatments for HIV is an investment in oneself and ensures health for years to come.  

Health Equals Wealth encourages Black and Latino young, queer men to take control of their sexual health. The program will make them feel more empowered to check their sexual health balance and keep their portfolio of partners.

The focus is on Hudson County. It will engage local icons, local LGBTQ hotspots, social media, and traditional avenues of advertisement with creativity to spread the importance of HIV care to those most vulnerable: Black and Latino queer men.

Gillette Harris, tv icon and coordinator of an initiative designed to fight the HIV epidemic in the ballroom scene called House of Force, said, “With Health Equals Wealth, my health and my life have value. Agencies like Hyacinth are gatekeepers to the community and with them backing a project like Health Equals Wealth, I know my community’s health is coming first. It’s not wealth like money but wealth in life.”

Health Equals Wealth is a key piece in Hyacinth’s newest efforts to end the HIV epidemic. Project LOL — the office for the campaign — is a safe space for young, queer men of color to invest in their community, invest in themselves, and invest in their health. Hyacinth offers housing assistance, treatment assistance, PrEP services, and case management. The Foundation says the services are needed in Hudson County as the community continues to experience new HIV infections.

In 2018, 65% of new HIV infections in Hudson County were from sexual transmission; 41% were from male-to-male sexual contact. 69% of all positive cases in Hudson County are msm. With the new emphasis, Hyacinth will boost its message of wellness, community, self-care, and the importance of making deposits in your own wellbeing.