What can a music video teach you about HIV?

Behold, the power of YouTube. If its status as the 3rd most visited site on the internet says anything, it’s that people like to watch videos. It can actually be a great resource for sexual health, especially for people who might be embarrassed to ask someone in real life. Curious about how to use a female condom? Need to brush up on some vintage Fresh Prince pickup lines? It’s as easy as pointing and clicking.

It’s relatively straightforward to put concrete, “how-to” information in a video, but what if you want to take on something more abstract – something like stigma around HIV testing? You won’t make much headway saying “Step 1: Don’t hate on people for getting tested. Step 2: Treat people who are positive with respect.” doesn’t do much to normalize testing or to change people’s perception of HIV.

R&B singer Marshall Titus and photographer and director John Gress had a different idea. Inspired by the concept behind the photography project, “A Day with HIV in America”, they turned the idea into a music video. Take a look:

Through the familiar medium of the music video, “I Will” gives viewers something the might never have seen before: an intimate, sensitive portrayal of a person recently diagnosed with HIV. Unlike other PSAs or sex education videos, “I Will” doesn’t brand its subject as a person with a disease but instead simply presents a unique individual, living his life the best way he knows how, one day at a time.

Titus said of the video, “Music is the universal language, and I intend to speak to the world though my music.” Considering the amount of discussion it’s already created, we think he’s on the right track – and we like where he’s going with it.

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