Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

Mytesi's HIV Thank You Campaign Lets PLWHAs Acknowledge Those Who Helped  

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Apr 7, 2017

Napo Pharmaceuticals Inc. ("Napo"), announced the launch of My HIV Thank You™, a social media campaign they are sponsoring which provides a platform for people living with HIV/AIDS, to share their personal stories of how someone -- a doctor or other healthcare provider, friend, family member or person who has passed on -- has made a positive impact on their HIV journey.

By sharing stories, in the form of audio or video, words or pictures, at HIVThankYou.com, participants have an opportunity to share a moment of gratitude and help make a difference for others affected by HIV. This program is the brainchild of HIV advocates who feel sharing positive experiences is an important part of living with HIV.  Napo is the manufacturer of Mytesi™, the only antidiarrheal studied in and FDA-approved for the relief of diarrhea in HIV-positive patients.

"Living with HIV requires access to multiple resources, such as those provided by healthcare professionals and others living with HIV," said Lisa Conte, CEO, Napo Pharmaceuticals. "Napo is sponsoring My HIV Thank You to advocate for the HIV community and their healthcare providers by offering a platform to highlight the inspirational moments of people living with HIV and AIDS, which has certainly inspired me."
 
Napo has brought together some of the leading voices in the HIV community who conceived of the campaign based on their own experiences. Josh Robbins is an HIV/AIDS activist and the founder of imstilljosh.com and "HIV Video Minute."

He said he was inspired to help start the campaign because he wanted a way to thank the researchers who told him, in "a caring and amazing manner" that he had HIV. After meeting medical students at a session he was leading at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Robbins said he felt sympathy for the nurses who have to share this information with their patients. He said he approached Napo Pharmaceuticals about the concept, and they were extremely supportive.

"Since being diagnosed, I've read and heard encouragement from thousands of people on the same journey as me. My piece of advice is simple -- start talking. And make that talk encouraging to others," said Robbins, who said he is working on his #MyHIVThankYou video now, and will submit it in the next few weeks.


Robbins is an HIV/AIDS activist, and publisher of the 2017 GLAAD Award nominated blog, imstilljosh.com. He hosts a digital news series across all social media platforms #HIVscoop. In 2015, he won the ADAP Advocacy Award for Social Media Campaign of the Year. He is the creator of two iOS apps: disclosur+ and Ask HIV, as well as the first HIV-related iMessage sticker pack.

Recently, he signed on with the weekly podcast, POZ I AM Radio, offering an exclusive #HIVscoop to the program. His videos have garnered more than 1.4M minutes watched. Robbins currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee and owns a small health communications agency, the BRANDAGEMENT.

Robbins is a social media consultant to Napo Pharmaceuticals who uses their product, Mytesi. He said that "since starting the medication, I can't remember the last time that I had to run to the bathroom because of non-infectious diarrhea. Look, nobody gets excited talking about diarrhea and the fact that I am talking so openly about my personal experience with diarrhea, for some of us living with the virus, it means that my experience has been amazing with this medication."

He noted that he has not experienced any of the side effects given in the drug information, and is "glad I found out about this drug."

Joining Robbins in this effort is Maria Mejia, a powerful advocate for HIV education, treatment, testing and prevention. In her own words, Mejia noted, "I am one of the faces of HIV. No more shame, no more stigma! We are just human beings that happen to have the condition of HIV. It's that simple."


Mejia has lived with HIV for over 27 years and is the co-author of her biography, "From a Warrior's Passion and Pain." Mejia is a powerful activist for HIV education, treatment, testing and prevention, with a strong presence in traditional and social media. She is an active blogger and vlogger, motivational speaker and founder of a prominent international HIV/AIDS support group online. Mejia is involved in several campaigns, including "Dab the AIDS Bear Project," the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "Let's Stop HIV Together" program and the "The Stigma Project." She also serves as a Global Ambassador for The Well Project. Mejia lives with her wife, Lisa, in Miami, FL.

My HIV Thank You™ is sponsored by Napo Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Mytesi (crofelemer), the only antidiarrheal studied in and FDA-approved for the relief of diarrhea in HIV-positive patients. Designed to inspire and energize, My HIV Thank You™ calls for people living with or affected by HIV to share their positive personal stories with their healthcare providers or others who have helped them throughout their HIV journey.

Robbins noted that speaking publicly about individuals affected with HIV/AIDS helps normalize it, and gives us, "an opportunity to educate and to help raise awareness about the condition, and help those that may not be as educated as they would like to be about HIV."

"I've found that by talking about HIV/AIDS, it helps to lessen the scared feeling from others toward us," said Robbins. "I certainly think that has even spoken volumes to me about my own stigma when I was still HIV-negative. #MyHIVThankYou is a viral campaign which provides the venue for us all to just say thanks. I think that's pretty important."


To learn more about the My HIV Thank You campaign, visit HIVThankYou.com

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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