Headshot Clinic Unite 2013 #HSCUnite2013

And for the sixth straight year, internationally acclaimed photographer Niccolo Cosme returns with the Headshot Clinic. This time, he brings back the call to action Unite for this instalment of his annual HIV awareness photo exhibit where the gallery is all our social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc.

My photo for Headshot Clinic Aware, back in December 2008 -- what started my life as an HIV advocate

My photo for Headshot Clinic Aware, back in December 2008 — what started my life as an HIV advocate

This is a pivotal and necessary ongoing project that Niccolo has undertaken. Taking people’s love for their social media platforms and their vanity (their love for having a professional photograph represent them in their profile pictures), he continues to push the movement and awareness campaign forward through social media.

The Headshot Clinic is a significant life event for me because this is when I disclosed my HIV status to the whole country. In December of 2008, I joined Headshot Clinic Aware as a writer and a person living with HIV. That’s when it all started for me. That’s when I became an advocate and had my third re-birth, so to speak. Everything changed, then. It was my way of coping with what had happened (I found out I was HIV positive in August of that year), and becoming an advocate gave HIV meaning to my life. As cliche and romantic as it sounds, from the ashes of my fiery and explosive discovery of my reckless past, I was reborn as person with purpose. I found a mission that would get me through the next three years to try and make sure that my mistake would be nobody else’s. I want it to stop with me.

As more and more people joined each year’s Headshot Clinic — to the point that it became a global event, other cities franchising the project and doing it in their country — we spread information about HIV and helped raise awareness over the Internet. The idea of the project is that everybody who had their photo taken will upload their new photos as their profile pics for all their social media sites on December 1, World AIDS Day, hoping to ignite discussion on HIV and to show a united stance online on HIV prevention.

Like the Project Headshot Clinic’s Facebook Page here for updates.

This year, several cities will be joining Niccolo in bringing back Headshot Clinic Unite — cities in the United States, Australia, China, France, Italy, and others — with the hopes that more and more people will see the united stance against the spread of HIV. We have to raise the awareness and get people to start changing their lifestyles. We need to people to protect themselves and each other, take the test, and be responsible for the lives they lead. While there is still no cure, we can only rely on each other.

To register for the Headshot Clinic Unite 2013 in Manila, you can log on to their website here. Click on the link “Unite” to access the registration requirements and how-to.

With over 300 new infections recorded monthly in the Philippines this year alone, there is no question we are facing an epidemic. And more than it being a health issue, it is also a social problem because it shows our country’s state-of-mind. We are reckless and irresponsible. We are hurting ourselves and hurting others and this has to stop.

HIV is preventable. You won’t get it if you don’t want to get it. There are simple ways, really, to not get HIV. It requires just a little bit of intelligence, caution, discernment, and discipline. It takes willpower. And as the numbers rise, I fear, that we do not have any of these qualities. I obviously didn’t. But while my life is forever scarred, I’m not suffering. I’m the lucky one. Though I almost died twice due to complications for HIV, I made it through pretty much unscathed. My life is my own again through the help of the love and support of all my friends and family.

But this is not going to be the case for everyone. Stop taking unnecessary risks. Taking these risks doesn’t mean your brave. It’s just another form of stupidity. Take the time to learn. Be informed. Ignorance can kill. What you do not know can kill you. And spread the word. Tell the ones you love. Talk about it. Make sure they are safe. And we’ll all be fine.

#zeroHIVph #HSCUnite2013

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