Our community has a crisis on its hands.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of HIV infections amongst gay and bisexual African American men rose 48% between 2006-2009. And nobody seems to know why.

According to the CDC, potential reasons for the continued increase in HIV infections amongst black gay and bisexual men include a lack of knowledge of one’s own status, as well as a lack of access to health care.

But one factor that stands out is STIGMA. Many are simply too afraid to know their status because they fear the stigma of being positive. But as these CDC statistics show, ignorance is not bliss.

As a community, we must be committed to loving ourselves and loving one another, regardless of sexuality or HIV status. True healing begins with love and understanding. How can our young people learn to thrive in an unforgiving world when they think they’ve got nowhere to go when life pulls them in an unexpected direction?

And how can we eradicate this deadly disease from our community when no one is willing to talk about it?

It’s time for a change.

Check out the video below. It’s a short film/music video directed by photographer and director John Gress, set to the song “I Will’ by Marshall Titus. The video tells the story of a young Gay man that discovers he is HIV positive. He fears not only for his mortality, but for the isolation sure to come with such an affliction.

His friends and loved ones prove him wrong.

Gress spoke with Rod 2.0, and had this to say about the film:

“For almost 30 years the focus solely on condom usage and fear has led to a rift in our society. People who are negative run from people who are positive, and people who are positive run from people who are negative to avoid rejection. People who think they are negative are afraid to be tested because the last thing any one wants is to be marginalized.

I wanted to show that although an HIV diagnosis can be a traumatic event, everyone has people who will love, support and accept them.”