PHOTOS: Underwear Models And Former Child Stars Pose For HIV Awareness Campaign

AdamBouskaThe time for ending any lingering stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and HIV testing is now, and HIV Equal, a social media anti-stigma campaign, is taking unique, fashionable steps to achieve this goal.

Many fabulous faces have been filing into the L.A. studio over the last couple of days. After photographing celebs such as Broadway stars Nick Adams and Billy Porter and professional boy toy Nick Gruber earlier this fall, the HIV Equal team was particularly excited to be supported by NOH8 founder Adam Bouska (right), who has effectively illustrated what a social media campaign like this can do to change public opinion. Child star-turned-go go dancer-turned singer Blake McIver and model/activist duo (and Queerty faves) Colby Melvin and Brandon Brown clearly appeal to the younger generation that HIV Equal needs to reach. And who doesn’t love an Andrew Christian model like Pablo Hernandez?

Other City of Angels luminaries such as Bruce Vilanch, Greg Louganis, Mario Diaz, Selene Luna, Jackie Beat and many of the queens from RuPaul‘s Drag Race are also scheduled to lend their faces to the campaign. And so can you. If you live in L.A. or will be there before December 10 and want to schedule an appointment for a photo shoot, email founder Jack Mackenroth at [email protected].

See a few exclusive photos from this week’s shoot below.


 Pablo Hernandez


Blake McIver


Brandon Brown, Colby Melvin

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  • jimbryant

    I’m sorry but we are NOT all HIV equal. This “HIV equal” nonsense is being peddled by a marketing team. Don’t fall for it.

    Also, do we really need drag queens and gym bunnies telling us that we are all HIV equal? Flush all of them. They belong in a sewer tank.

  • Homophile


    So inclusive!

  • hotshot70

    @jimbryant, I think the message is not making light of HIV status, just that you should not be treated like an outcast because of it.

  • Stacy

    @jimbryant: Actually, as neither a “gym bunny” nor a “drag queen”, I think you epitomize two of the greater problems in gay society today: The exclusionary attitude toward those whom you don’t identify with, and the lack of even an effort to understand the motives behind what’s placed before you. No two people are exactly alike, but most of us try to find those with whom we share a commonality, and find strength in those similarities we have. The need to belittle, marginalize and denigrate those people who aren’t like you only leads to isolation. You may want to consider finding an island where you can be with the only person who meets your approval, but I’m guessing you won’t like being alone for long.

  • jimbryant

    The “HIV Equal” campaign reflects a disturbing pattern of “inclusiveness” in all things gay. We are constantly told that we are all at risk of catching HIV. Well, no, we aren’t.

    It’s as if a great big marketing team is telling us that we must all think and act alike. I’m sorry but I am not going to fall victim to a marketing team.

    I’m a gay man who has a mind of my own. I won’t submit to “HIV Equal” or any other nonsense peddled by a marketing team.

  • cctv

    I am all for new prevention messaging but the problem of new HIV infections is overwhelmingly concentrated in urban communities of color and our campaigns have to reflect this. We need to see more black and brown people involved, from conceptualizing these ads to appearing in them. I do applaud the effort though.

  • jimbryant

    The other thing about this HIV Equal campaign is that it appears to follow the marketing of a porn movie. They are using nearly-naked men of a certain look to promote the notion of HIV awareness. It’s pathetic.

    It truly reflects the dishonesty that is being foisted on our sexuality by the marketing teams.

  • jwtraveler

    @jimbryant: Is there anyone you DON’T hate?

  • jwtraveler

    I’ve got to admit, I don’t get the point of this campaign. HIV+ does not equal HIV-. It’ math as well as biology and epidemiology.

  • sportsguy1983

    I’d take this campaign serious if they used average joes and not guys desperate in their attempts to gain fame. Then again, those behind ths campaign are fame seeking whores themselves.


    @jimbryant: WHAT a DOUCHE!! Take a chill pill MISSY!!

  • jimbryant

    I’m sorry but I am OVER being told how to think and act by marketing teams. Over. Get it? Over. That’s right, over.

    I don’t like being told when to throw my hands up in the air, basically.

  • ZRod

    Or, you know, HIV= implies that HIV sees every human equally, as targets. Think about it a little, gut reaction doesn’t always work.

  • KittyLitter

    So are all these guys POZ? Because that what it seems like. And the couple in the bottom, it makes it seem like the “accepting” guy was given it by the guy seeking forgiveness.
    We are not all “=” one status is a near death sentence while the other is…..

  • jimbryant


    Um, no, HIV does NOT see every human being equally. It sees promiscuous people more easily than non-promiscuous people. It sees drug users more easily than it sees non-drug users. There is no such thing as HIV seeing people equally.

    People who are careless invite – yes, invite – HIV into their bodies. It is actually one of the most difficult viruses to acquire.

  • JimboinLA

    When I was fifteen years old in 1982 my dad’s gay co-worker died of AIDS. He was a young man. I realized that he died because he had unprotected sex before anyone knew about the disease. I decided that the only way to be safe was to not have gay sex. So I didn’t. I didn’t trust condoms not breaking. I missed out on some pleasure but I am HIV negative at 47. I wouldn’t trade my HIV status for all the sex I missed out on. It took a lot of will power but I am alive and healthy. For this campaign tell me that my HIV status is the same as some tweeking circuit party boy is incredibly insulting to those of us who managed not to contract the disease in the 80’s and 90’s. My negative status is reward enough. But these people can go F#*k themselves.

  • tb64

    This is BS is right. We are NOT all HIV EQUAL. I am NEGATIVE. Being positive means you are different. There is NOTHING WRONG with that difference, yet we must be honest that there is a difference none the less.

    Being positive carries responsibilities that many cannot or will not accept. This unfortunately is a pattern since their HIV infection most likely resulted from not taking precautions to start with. Those claiming to be “negative” because they are undetectable is WRONG. You are positive if undetectable. Stop trying to regain “normal.” You will never be normal again, just like many of us with other illnesses must ACCEPT.

    Condoms WORK! They have for over 30 years. For those of us who used condoms faithfully for all these years to be grouped into the same status as those who are positive is OFFENSIVE. We made the sacrifices of that “pleasure” that others chose to partake in and trying to change what “normal” means is just a feel good tactic for those who can’t handle their situation. We all must grow up.

  • jimbryant


    Congratulations, you made a moral choice and it has held you in good stead.

    Promiscuity for men is a very difficult thing to resist. Straight men find it difficult to avoid promiscuity and the same applies to gay men.

    Keep in mind that men are hard-wired to have sex as often as possible. It’s an inbuilt survival mechanism which guarantees the survival of the human species as a whole through reproduction. Resisting it requires an act of morality.

    Of course, I’m not saying that men should be chaste. Straight men have the marriage institution to help reduce their promiscuity. Such men also have to face the natural reluctance of women to engage in sex at the drop of a hat.

    With gay men, these institutional restraints on promiscuity are not present. Thus, there is the tendency to engage in promiscuity with total strangers whose sexual health is completely unknown. Therein lies the folly.

    My philosophy is to love but to be wary of whom you love and how you love. It’s the best advice I could give anybody. Also, avoid drugs.

  • tbrianware

    We are all HIV Equal… and here is why. When I was 18, I stopped for gas after leaving a bar in North Louisiana before heading back to my dorm 30 miles away. I had been out at the only gay bar in a 50 mile radius.

    While using the bathroom, a gentleman came in, used the urial two down from me and then went on his way. So I thought. He grabbed me from behind, beat my face into the tiled wall, then into the lip of the urinal, and repeatedly slammed my face into the floor. He then took all my money (very little since I was a college student), held a knife to my side and proceeded to rape me. It felt like hours, even though it was a few minutes. He cut me and left me for dead, bleeding in the gas station bathroom.

    Of course, I was tested twice after this and I was HIV negative. The next fall, I began dating the man who is still my partner in life… And it has been an amazing 16.5 years. We were completely monogamous and having both tested HIV negative, played unsafe for years.

    My partner needed to have a tonsillectomy, and his doctor insisted on an HIV test. In order to make him feel more comfortable, I took one with him. And there it was… I was HIV+. And he was, and is still HIV-. But we are still equal. We were for 8 years while practicing unsafe sex together. And we are now still.

    People who think they are lucky or they did something to protect themselves and therefore think they are better off than those with HIV are just delusional. They seem to believe it couldn’t happen to them. But it can. I am living proof.

    Life is for the living, so get started!

  • Tackle

    This campaign is confusing and misleading. People are not going to take this seriously. First off, everybody does NOT have an HIV status. That would be as silly as saying that everybody has a Cancer status, or Heart disease status. People who test positive for HIV has an HIV status. A status based upon a viral load/T-cell count and other factors. And since we are not all HIV positive, we cannot be all HIV=… We are
    (definately) all human equal, regardless of healt, sickness or disease. When a person test positive, certain rights and privileges do go out the window. Example, to knowingly engaging in bareback sex without informing your partner can result in criminal prosecution. And don’t get me started on the so-called diversity of this campaign. It’s not. It’s directed toward a certain group this founder finds important.

  • jimbryant


    There are lots of false positives in HIV testing. You possibly were a false positive. HIV can’t be transmitted between two people who don’t have HIV in their systems. Just doesn’t happen.

  • Horse Lips

    Good luck with reaching the goal of this campaign. Judging from some of the comments here, we’re gonna need it.

  • CaptainFabulous


  • robirob

    HIV Awareness? Is that some stupid party scam trick where all the donations go into the pockets of the organisation’s board members and none or barely any of it into research and a scientific search for an actual cure?

    Quite frankly I do not need celebs or pretty guys telling me about this plight called HIV and AIDS. I am well aware of it.

  • Scribe38

    @jimbryant: list of other things you don’t submit to: common sense, decency, or empathy for anyone besides yourself. What did your mother/daddy/priest/babysitter do to you to make you so bitter? Baby seriously get some help.

  • tada-no

    I do not understand the message of the campaign. On one hand we are celebrating HIV and on the other-hand we can’t figure out how to stop the 50,000 annual new HIV infection rates that are climbing.

    If cute boys in thongs are telling us HIV= as a positive message, then why promote safe sex message at all? Embracing a serious disease as some cultural norm for gay men would be like Bollywood stars making campaigns for Tuberculosis = or in Africa Malaria = and in Asia Hepatitis =

    Why do P.R. companies feel that to reach gay men on serious social issues that effect us, they must recruit shirtless gym bunnies and porn stars in thongs to make us listen? Are we as gay men so degraded that we need naked bodies to hear a message?

    Stop making cynical campaigns with gay version of playboy bunnies. A positive campaign should focus on embracing HIV testing, promoting condom use with casual sex partners and reminding people that other serious STDs besides HIV do affect us even when you are a “Poz”

    These campaigns achieve nothing but give men 5 second eye candy to look at and continue with the day because of the nature of how the message is delivered in most gay ads.

  • Cam

    Sorry, but after they used gay hating Nick Gruber as one of their “Stars” to launch this campaign, and then lashed out at anybody who dared question that choice it is obvious to me that this campaign is all about making money for the people running it and has nothing to do with improving the community.

    But on the bright side, what a wonderful opportunity for little known wannabee celebs to spend five minutes without their shirts on to pretend that they care.

  • Fitz

    If we are all HIV=, then hey…. good news! Throw away those condoms! We’re all exactly the same already anyway.

    It’s a bigger cultural issue of everyone being so phony feel-good about everything.

  • balehead

    Just more lame “caring” marketing to promote escort services…

  • jimbryant

    I don’t resile at all from what I’ve said.

    The simple fact is that HIV is not a random virus. It requires an invitation. Promiscuity invites it. Don’t deny it.

  • Daniel-Reader

    I believe the campaign HIV= is saying everyone is equally responsible for getting tested, staying healthy regardless of your status, not mistreating someone who has hiv, not diminishing their lives or aspirations, not thinking that this is the last virus that will impact the human race in this manner so use some humanity to educate others. I think it seems like a sensible campaign. I wouldn’t want my friends with hiv harmed because other folks have a superiority complex.

  • jimbryant

    Why should everyone get tested? I don’t see a reason for it. If you’re promiscuous and have sex with total strangers, sure, I’d recommend it. However, we are not all that way.

  • Ruhlmann

    @JimboinLA: So since 1982 you have in fact been fukking yourself? HIV- and pathetic, congratulations.

  • CHIguy89

    Congratulations on being HIV-. You want a cookie? Fact is, HIV affects all communities, regardless of age, gender, race, orientation, creed, etc. Your attitude is exactly the kind of hateful mindset this campaign is targeting. I don’t exactly agree with their method of disseminating the point, but it’s an important message, nonetheless. Your holier than thou attitude is uncalled for. Everyone makes mistakes. I don’t why you feel so entitled to pass judgment. What about the infants that are born HIV+ through no fault of their own? Are you going to lord your status over them, as well?

  • jimbryant

    I am not going to join this PC kumbaya chorus where we all hold hands and sing “you, me and HIV”. Keep your HIV away from me. I am not part of some diseased circuit queen’s party scene.

  • inotiwin

    No, we are not HIV equal. Everyone should know their status and a positive diagnosis may not be a death sentence any longer but practicing just a little bit of self control and prevention can result in a much easier life without battling a chronic illness that could kill you. The reason we see rising rates of this disease is due to these campaigns to end stigma and information about HIV. Nobody hears about the horror stories of HIV or sees anyone die anymore. All we hear is how long everyone is living and how undetectable they all are. What young gays need to understand is that this disease is expensive to treat, and that it is an adaptive disease that will continually try to find ways to make you sick, weaken the immune system and kill you. What if the drugs that work now stop working in a couple years and the HIV poz life we were all told would be so manageable becomes a death sentence again? That is not a risk I’m willing to take… and I’m a circuit queen who likes promiscuous sex.

    Ask guys their status and ALWAYS wear a condom. If one does break and there is concern there are the pep drugs. I’m thankful for these safety nets but none of the treatments negate our responsibility to have safer sex. Barebacking is irresponsible high-risk behavior that should be discouraged instead of pacified and tolerated.

  • mawbinatl

    @jimbryant: I have tried to stay out of the fray for as long as I could, but this particular topic hits home for me.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I feel that you don’t ‘listen’ or consider other’s feelings.

    Like tbrianware, I was raped by someone who thought No was just me teasing him and while I was passed out drunk, he pounced and I ended up positive.

    I am by no means saying that I was an abstinent angel beforehand, but I had just lost a relative to AIDS and knew the rights and wrongs of gay sex and always used a condom.

    This ad, with it’s pretty boy shine, is to say to people like you, that we shouldn’t be judged because you don’t know how we got the disease. I’m also taking away from this, that all people, regardless of what they tell you, should be treated as if they are positive. According to the CDC 20% of young people don’t know their status and are NOW the ones likely to take more risks and account for the newest infections. If this gets their attention, then I’m all for it. And if you read the article, they are asking lay people, people like you and me, to take part in this as well, so it’s not going to be all glitz and glam forever. It’s not going to be models and drag queens forever; sort of like the NOH8 campaign.

    It’s an obtuse round about way to get them to pay attention, but many Millennials are so into Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc, that they don’t take the time to take care of numero uno and since HIV is no longer the death sentence that it once was – quick and devastating, they probably look at it as something that can be “cured” with PrEP’s (which is no walk in the park, I’ve heard).

    We want everyone to be safe, you included. If that means this obscure ad will get people to pay attention to the plague that still exists, then so be it.

    So it doesn’t have much to do with promiscuity, but everything to do with responsibility. You choose to be celibate and/or selective, and that’s fine, but there are others who aren’t as disciplined and needs something to remind them.

    Just have a bit of empathy instead of engaging in demagoguery of people like me and tbrianware and other unfortunate souls who may have more than one sex partner or may have been duped by trusting their long time companions/husbands/wives and others.

    And another thing, you were incorrect with the saying that tbrianware may have had a false positive. There are more false negatives than false positives because of the window where HIV antibodies are undetectable – which may have been his case –

    And there are a number of reasons that may have happened, but don’t assume that he is lying to you to prove a point. It’s his story not yours.

    I don’t think you intend to be demeaning and degrading, but it comes across as such. As a gay man who should be more in tune with his gay brethren, all I’m asking is that you have a little compassion and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes for once. As you wouldn’t appreciate being judged based on assumptions, you should not do it to others.

  • Geeker

    This campaign kind of shoots itself in the foot by using pretty shirtless boys and porn stars like the super slutty Boomer Banks. Normal guys aren’t going to relate to circuit queens and porn skanks.

  • Cam


    Your post is a good explanation of why there should not be a stigma against people who have AIDS. It says nothing about why this self serving money making scheme of a campaign is at all valuable to the community.

  • viveutvivas

    @jimbryant, please just go away.

  • viveutvivas

    It’s a message against stigma, for those of you who didn’t get it.

    Unfortunately, the fact that it is flying over so many heads means that it is not a very good campaign. Whoever thought it out and approved it should probably be made accountable for wasting a lot of money.

  • DerekR

    @jimbryant: Please sit on a chainsaw you judgemental troll f*ck.

  • MK Ultra

    The intention behind this campaign is noble and the message of removing the stigma around HIV & testing is an important one. But, as others have mentioned, the execution is poor, leaving the message unclear and confusing. It’s important in info campaigns for the message to be very easy to decipher for maximum effectiveness. Maybe they could tweak it a little bit?

  • Dixie Rect

    Circuit Queens and D list WeHO ‘model celebs’ are going to be the anchor of this ridiculous campaign? They couldn’t get someone, perhaps B list at least? The message is confusing. It will go away soon enough.

    But fear not, Colby will have another pretty picture for his portfolio, which is really all that matters.

  • mawbinatl

    @Cam: First, I want to thank you and then I want to ask where in this article does it say that this campaign is money making scheme.

    I would hope that just like the NOH8 campaign, that proceeds would go to HIV education especially geared towards Millennials and people of color where infection is on the rise.

    Hopefully it will also steer people to treatment options because many people of color see treatment options as something that Caucasian people are afforded.

    I just saw a documentary about AIDS in the early days, when people were dying daily and the way that they got others in the community’s attention was by distributing gay comics depicting safe sex practice.

    This was, according to the documentarian, done primarily in New York and was very effective. So much so that it got the attention of bigoted politician, Strom Thurmond, who mistakenly claimed that the government was founding this effort.

    My point is, let’s see if it is effective. I’m sure that there will be tweaks and improvements. This is in its infancy, but if it reaches just 5% of those who it is intended, then it’s done it’s job.

    I’m sure that the people behind this would hope for a larger appeal, but not everything always works great right out the gate.

  • Charlie in Charge

    Could the purpose of the ads be to suggest having compassion for people of any status? Is that a bad message?

  • Stache1

    @DerekR: Ha. I wish we had a thumbs up to comments because I really liked that one.

  • Le_benson

    I can’t believe that a message as simple as equality is being missed by so many people. I have several poz friends who all have been ostracized by people who are from the very community that is supposed to support them. You do not have to be promiscuous to contract HIV. To say that every poz person is a circuit queen or a Slut is morally corrupt. It just takes once, one mistake, one bad decision, and I highly doubt that the self righteous jimbryant can say that he never made a mistake in his obviously misinformed troubled life. And saying that everyone should not get tested is so socially wrong.

  • Geeker

    What I don’t get is why everything gay related seems to require that porn stars be involved in it?

  • SwordAndShield

    Everyone seems to be jumping on @jimbryant but what he says runs along the vein of truth…I see alot of comments to the effect of “we are ostracizing those similar to us when we should be supporting them”…Hell, we do that ASIDE from the HIV status…Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is the only thing we are not compassionate about within the community…This is just the topic of the week…

  • scotshot

    @cctv: Barebacking is rampant. There will be a rise in HIV infection in those who practice it. HIV is colorblind.

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