Former "Project Runway" contestant Jack Mackenroth is teaming with Merck for a national HIV education campaign.
Mackenroth will bring "Living Positively By Design" to one of the largest AIDS-related gathering in the country, the U.S. Conference on AIDS, which is ongoing this week in Orlando, Fla.
With the help of conference attendees, Mackenroth will create a panel for submission to the Names AIDS Quilt, the largest ongoing community arts project in the world.
"As a designer, I understand the therapeutic benefit of expression through art, and I hope that the panel inspires people to maintain a positive outlook on life," says Mackenroth, who was diagnosed with HIV more than 20 years ago. "The quilt is a powerful memorial that personalizes the fight against HIV and helps to fight the stigma associated with the disease -- which is one of the goals of my partnership with Merck."
Merck did not reply to requests for comment about the partnership.
While in Orlando for USCA, Mackenroth will also be meeting with several local AIDS service organizations to discuss his personal story, the "Living Positive By Design" campaign and the impact of HIV in Florida.
"Living Positive By Design" seeks to help combat the stigma associated with HIV by engaging people in thoughtful conversation about the disease and encouraging a positive outlook on life.
Since the launch of the project, Mackenroth has visited 11 cities, bringing the campaign's messages to cities hardest hit by the HIV epidemic: Miami, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington, D.C. He will continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS throughout 2010, reaching an additional four cities by the end of the year.
In addition to combating the stigma associated with HIV, the campaign also encourages people living with HIV to work with their doctor on an ongoing basis to select a treatment regimen that keeps their viral load at an undetectable level. The campaign includes the Web site: www.LivingPositiveByDesign.com.