"Fight HIV Your Way" Contest Winners

By: Christopher Donaldson

Of all Bristol-Myers Squibb’s—maker of HIV therapy drug REYATAZ—commitments, it’s its partnership with world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) that has best served its effort to increase public awareness of people living with HIV.

On Tuesday, the pharmaceutical giant announced ten first-place winners of its 2011 REYATAZ “Fight HIV Your Way” contest, which asked participants to use personal essay and photography to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma surrounding HIV. And get this: all winners will stand as inspiration for a new AAADT work set to premier in New York City this December then a 2012 national tour soon thereafter.

"I was moved by the ‘Fight HIV Your Way’ contest and all who so generously shared their uplifting essays and photos that express the powerful energy and individual journeys of the many people who are touched by HIV,” said Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Contest Judge. “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has a long history of using dance to shine a light on significant issues – an ongoing tradition that is deeply aligned with this important initiative.”

Without further ado, the winners:

"I fight HIV each day. I wake up each morning and put one foot in front of the other. I keep moving forward. I get plenty of sleep. I take my medications with precision. I exercise most days. I work very hard. I keep a positive mental attitude. I replenish my spiritual self. I keep my clinical appointments and monitor my progress. I eat healthy and take nutritional supplements. I volunteer my time and talents to AIDS Service Organizations. I spend quality time with family and friends. I fight HIV each day." James R. Dustin, GA


"I stepped off that stage, tutu in hand, and jetted to the trailer. "Hey friends, I'm getting tested for HIV and I have a bad feeling. Stay close to your phones today." Needless to say, I didn't think gracefully stepping out of that trailer onto that street would change my life forever. Cue meds, sadness, college finals, a degree in dance, side effects, and barf. Cue broken friendships, broken glass, and a broken heart. Cue me collapsing on stage with a girl in my hand. And here I am today. Lights fade. Exit stage left. Cue lights." Michael Gomez, CA


"This photo shows how I am fighting HIV. Friends, family, and God help me fight this disease. Trying to live life the way I did before my diagnosis helps me get through life as well. Being involved in cheerleading, dance, and work help me through this rough time." John Perkins, AL


"I work with the public and I'm still afraid when I go to the doctor to sit in the waiting room. I am afraid someone will recognize me, so I stand in the hall and wait for the nurse to see me. I just hope one day I can feel good about using the front door of the clinic, instead of quickly running in the back door before someone recognizes me." Anonymous


For more information visit: www.fighthivyourway.com







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