"Project Runway All Stars" Contestant Mondo Guerra Brings National HIV Education Campaign to San Francisco's Premier High-Design Charity

Nov 14, 2011, 12:00 ET from Living Positive By Design

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Mondo Guerra, a contestant on the upcoming "All Stars" season of the hit television show "Project Runway," is bringing the national HIV education campaign Living Positive By Design to the Bay Area for the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) San Francisco's annual fundraising event, Dining by Design.  Guerra, who joined fellow "Project Runway" alum Jack Mackenroth on the Living Positive By Design campaign this year, will appear at both the Table Hop & Taste as well as the Gala Dinner, being held on November 16 and 17 in the Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center.  Living Positive By Design, supported by Merck, encourages people living with HIV to maintain a positive outlook on life while working with their doctor to manage their disease.    

"San Francisco has been one of the hardest hit cities by the HIV epidemic.  I'm honored to be able to bring Living Positive By Design to the Bay Area and lend my voice to a community that has been at the center of the fight for over 30 years," said Guerra.  "I know first-hand how difficult it can be to disclose your HIV-positive status because of stigma.  Through my partnership with Merck I'm working to combat this stigma, and I hope that I can inspire others to maintain a positive outlook on life."

DIFFA has been one of the country's largest supporters for people living with HIV for more than 24 years, and the organization's San Francisco chapter has been hosting Dining by Design for 11 years now.  The proceeds from Dining by Design will benefit uninsured people living with HIV in the San Francisco area.  

"I'm proud that I made the decision to be open about my positive HIV status, after a decade of battling the stigma related with HIV and not seeking the support or services I needed. I now know how important it is for people living with disease to participate in an open dialogue with their doctors to not only find a treatment regimen that works best for them, but also to consider their overall health, as many of us have concerns beyond our HIV," said Guerra.  "Merck has been committed to the needs of people living with HIV for more than 25 years, and I'm proud to be able to work with them alongside my friend and fellow 'Project Runway' alum, Jack Mackenroth."  

About Living Positive By Design

Living Positive By Design is an HIV education campaign supported by Merck that encourages people living with the disease to maintain a positive outlook on life while working with their doctor to manage their disease. The campaign underscores the importance for people living with HIV to talk with their doctor about important goals of treatment, including achieving an undetectable viral load and increasing CD4 cell counts.  It is also important to consider side effects from medications, as they may make staying on therapy more difficult. HIV-positive people should work with their doctor if they have any concerns to find options that work best for them.  Because today many HIV-positive people may be dealing with a variety of health concerns beyond their HIV, it is important to discuss overall health and any health concerns when talking with doctors about HIV treatment options.  For more information on Living Positive By Design, please visit www.LivingPositiveByDesign.com.

Prevalence of HIV and AIDS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States and an estimated 56,300 Americans become infected every year.  By the end of 2010, there were more than 40,000 people living with HIV in California.  In San Francisco alone, there were more than 18,000 people estimated to be living with HIV in January of this year, with approximately 62 percent of new HIV diagnoses being in men who have sex with men (MSM).  

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

SOURCE Living Positive By Design