WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that Duane Cramer, an acclaimed photographer and HIV advocate, is joining the national HIV education campaign I Design. Duane has partnered with Project Runway star Mondo Guerra, who served as the voice of the campaign in 2012, to help empower people living with HIV to work with their doctors and approach HIV treatment "through their own lens." The I Design campaign traveled the United States in 2012, and is embarking on its second year on the road this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, including the launch of interactive digital tools to help with HIV management on www.ProjectIDesign.com.
"As a person who has lived with HIV for a long time, I've learned that self-expression is incredibly important, especially when it comes to working with my doctor on a treatment plan," said Cramer. "I am thrilled to join Merck and Mondo on the I Design campaign and to be kicking off the second year of this successful initiative on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. I look forward to helping people living with HIV understand the importance of an open and ongoing dialogue with their healthcare provider to manage this chronic disease."
An internationally known photographer, Duane has lived with HIV for nearly two decades. He is also a passionate activist for HIV awareness and education, particularly for the African-American community, who are disproportionately affected by the disease. Since being diagnosed as HIV-positive, HIV has become his artistic lens, no matter the subject. Some of his most rewarding work, through his photography and his personal life, comes from bringing attention to African-Americans living with HIV. Duane lost his father Joe J. Cramer, Jr., PhD, an accomplished academician, to the disease in 1986, and later created a panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt in his honor with his mothers and sisters. He served as board member emeritus for the NAMES Project Foundation – AIDS Memorial Quilt.
"Over the last year, I've been inspired by the many voices within the HIV community and want to continue reaching more people with the I Design message of working with your doctor in taking a tailored approach to your HIV treatment," said Guerra. "The experience has been truly rewarding and I'm looking forward to working with Duane to continue sharing our messages about managing your HIV and the importance of patient-physician collaboration."
Mondo and the I Design campaign traveled across the United States in 2012 with multiple stops, including the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) and the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA 2012). With Duane on board, the campaign will continue to raise awareness about the importance of active communication with your doctor about goals of treatment now and in the future, including introducing interactive digital tools that can help facilitate these conversations. The "My Health Matters" and "My Positive Agenda" mobile and desktop apps – now available on www.ProjectIDesign.com – include a symptom and medication tracker, which can create reports to make it easy to share information with your healthcare team.
Getting Involved with I Design
I Design is a national HIV education campaign led by Merck, notable fashion designer Mondo Guerra and award-winning photographer Duane Cramer aimed at helping to empower people living with HIV to have open and meaningful discussions with their doctors about their treatment plan based on their medical and lifestyle needs.
To learn more about the campaign, visit www.ProjectIDesign.com where you can download a conversation checklist, which offers tips on how to engage in an open and honest dialogue with your doctor; design a digital textile illustrating your approach to managing HIV; and view videos and photos. To help you track and manage your health, there are the "My Health Matters" and "My Positive Agenda" mobile and desktop apps. These easy-to-use tools help you track the symptoms of your HIV, set up reminders to take your medications on time, and keep a record of when you have taken them, which can serve to prompt you on important discussion points when you are with your doctor. For additional tips and to follow Merck, Mondo, and Duane's collaboration on I Design, join them on Twitter @Merck, @LoveMondoTrasho and @DuaneCramer.
About National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was commemorated to increase HIV awareness and advance HIV prevention, testing, and treatment among Blacks in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans face the most severe burden of HIV compared to all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Despite representing approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2009, African-Americans accounted for nearly 45 percent of all new HIV infections in that year and account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease – from new infections to deaths.
About Mondo Guerra
After an emotional disclosure of his HIV-positive status during Season 8, fashion designer Mondo Guerra won the hearts of the judges, fellow contestants and viewers on the hit reality TV show Project Runway. Last Spring marked his triumphant return to Project Runway All Stars Season 1 as the winner of the show.
Mondo has been HIV-positive for more than 10 years, and since his courageous disclosure, has become an advocate for HIV awareness. He is currently collaborating with Merck on I Design, a national HIV education campaign to help empower people living with HIV to play an active role in working with their doctors to design an HIV treatment plan. Mondo continues to serve as a role model in the HIV community by speaking openly about his status and encouraging others to do the same.
About Duane Cramer
Duane Cramer is a freelance, award-winning photographer whose poignant photos of dignitaries, celebrities and everyday individuals gracefully capture the humanity of his subjects. Since being diagnosed with HIV 17 years ago, Duane Cramer has become a tireless advocate for HIV awareness and education, using his photography and creative skills to bring attention to the disease, particularly in the African-American community.
Duane has previously served as a board member emeritus for the NAMES Project Foundation – AIDS Memorial Quilt and was a founding member on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. In addition to I Design, Duane continues to devote his time, energy and artistic expression to numerous HIV events and organizations across the United States.
Merck's Commitment to HIV
For more than 25 years, Merck has been at the forefront of the response to the HIV epidemic and we have made a difference through our proud legacy of commitment to innovation, collaborating with community, and expanding global access to medicines. Merck is dedicated to applying our scientific expertise, resources and global reach to deliver healthcare solutions that support people living with HIV worldwide.
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.