UFC Partners With LGBT Organization In New HIV Awareness Campaign
There has been a welcome rush of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns in 2013, with the most recent addition coming from the perhaps unlikely partnership between the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.
The new campaign focuses on folks under the age of 30, a core demographic of the UFC.
The UFC and The Center are now picking a fight with that ignorance by launching an awareness campaign called “Protect Yourself At All Times."
Robert (“Bob”) Elkins, CEO of The Center, said: “HIV stopped being a ‘gay issue’ long ago but, unfortunately, it has now very much become a ‘young issue.' The jarring fact is that young gay men are becoming infected at a much higher rate. The lack of both awareness and accessible information for teenagers and young adults is truly frightening. It’s like the 1990s never happened in terms of education and public awareness. In the UFC, we have the perfect partner to fight this ignorance, and we thank them for joining us in this battle.”
Elkins, who is openly HIV-positive after contracting the virus 27 years ago, added: “When I first found I was HIV positive, my friends and family thought it was a death sentence. But I wouldn’t accept that and started anti-retroviral treatment which I’ve continued ever since. Today, my viral load is virtually undetectable, thanks to my doctors and the meds. But through education and medical advances we began to fight back against the disease. Living with HIV is manageable, but we cannot allow advancements to take away our focus on preventing new infections through public awareness and education.”
Forrest Griffin, the hunky UFC Hall of Famer pictured above, is serving as the current face (and body!) of the campaign. “I had 15 fights in the UFC Octagon during my career, and before each and every one of them, I had a HIV test," he said. "I’m encouraging everybody to show themselves and their partners the same respect I showed my opponents by getting tested and protecting themselves at all times.”