A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, conducted in 21 major cities and released last September, indicated that one in five men who have sex with men are infected with HIV — and of those infected, nearly half don’t know they have the virus.
The website, according to Osito co-founders Rod Castle and Carlos A. Obanda, offers “a short and straightforward” message “designed to communicate the message that every individual has to take personal responsibility in stopping the spread of HIV. The purpose of this website is to encourage people to make a personal commitment and to sign the online pledge.”
The website features an introductory segment that has music with a thumping bass beat and messages flashing across a plain, dark blue background urging people to act responsibly. The home page offers a “contract with yourself” regarding safe sex practices, and explains “the ABCs of safe sex”: Abstinence, Being faithful and using Condoms.
There’s more, of course, including an “HIV 411” page with links to various online resources on HIV/AIDS.
“HIV is 100 percent preventable, and new infections could almost be eradicated overnight if every sexually active person would live by our motto: ‘I’m not going to GET IT; I’m not going to GIVE IT,’” said Castle, CEO of the Osito Foundation CEO.
Obanda, the foundation’s vice president, said Osito is planning HIV awareness and education events in more than 20 cities across the U.S. with the highest rates of HIV infection.
For those of us who have been living in, around and with the epidemic for more than 20 years, the information on the website might seem like old hat (although the music is great!). But obviously, considering infection rates continue to rise, there are plenty of people out there who haven’t gotten the message yet. So check out the site and spread the word. If it helps keep just one person from becoming infected, it’s worth it.