Kevyn Mines revealed his HIV-status in the documentary “The Way to Kevin,” which chronicled the life of the Philadelphia native. The openly gay 33-year-old, who works as a photographer and web-series personality, said several HIV-positive men of color discussed their status with him after seeing the film.
“I realized there were a lot of people in several different circles who were holding on to this big ‘dirty secret’ and were afraid to tell anyone,” Mines said.
Mines created GoodPlus, with the “Plus” representing “People Living United against HIV Stigma,” as a support group for HIV-infected men of color who have sex with men. He initially began it as a Facebook group in June 2016 and started holding monthly meetings in the city. Mines said the support group is to let people living with HIV know “they are not alone.”
“I wanted to start something that would give them that support and eradicate stigma,” Mines said. “I think stigma is one of the reasons why the virus continues to spread. People are afraid to talk about their status because they think they are going to be judged. People are afraid to get tested because of all of the stigma they heard about HIV.”
Mines said the group currently has members from a variety of age ranges, from 19-64. In addition to the monthly meetings, the group also participates in social activities such as game nights and Six Flags trips.
“Everyone is very accepting and open,” Mines said. “There’s no judgment. People can really feel free to let their hair down.”
In the future, Mines said he hopes to have conversations with community leaders and influencers to enforce positive conversations around HIV. Additionally, he said he wants to incorporate more social events and establish the group as a nonprofit so people can receive support “beyond sitting in a circle.”
“I know that we have been battling HIV for 30 years and there have been so many advancements in medicine but there is a horrible stigma attached to being HIV-positive,” Mines said. “We attacked eradicating the virus, or the epidemic, by talking about prevention. I think the approach should [now] be, ‘Let’s talk to people who are positive.’”
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