Columbus, Ohio Is Front And Center In West’s New Music Video & It’s Starting Some Conversations

Screen Shot of Nina West from “Treat Yourself”

Drag Queen Extraordinaire Nina West Debuts “Treat Yourself,” Presented by OraQuick

Each year on September 27, we acknowledge National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  One of my good friends posted this on his Facebook page on Friday.


30 Year’s Positive and still going Strong!

This year’s theme is: “The conversation about HIV is changing.” That is an understatement! In the past few years we’ve learned that if someone living with HIV has undetectable viral load they CANNOT transmit the virus. We have also learned that those at risk of HIV can use PrEP (Truvada and soon Descovy) as a new, highly effective means of protecting themselves from HIV. Medical science alone hasn’t changed the  conversation, however. The conversation about HIV/AIDS has been transformed by those at risk AND those living with HIV who continue to support evidence over stigma, and love over fear. So today we encourage all gay men to know their status and talk to each other about HIV. It is only when we talk to each other that the conversation changes.

#NGMHAAD #TalkPrEP #TalkUndetectable #uequalsu #endaids #PrEP #truvada #gaypride #gaymen #gay #endthestigma

Talking about HIV/AIDS was something that wasn’t happening 30 years ago.  There was mention of it, plenty of mentioning it, but the actual talking and having conversations about it, it was just scary. Ninth grade health class was not a great environment to talk about sex, let alone STDs.

Well, it’s not 1989 anymore.  In 2019 we can talk about it, but do we?  When was the last time you talked about HIV/AIDS?  Using that same time frame of 30 years, I think I’ve had much less than 30 conversations about HIV/AIDS outside of the doctor’s office or testing center.  Remember that this year’s theme is: “The conversation about HIV is changing.”   I’m just very happy that conversations are happening.  And now people are singing about it.

In a new video released on Friday, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Nina West is front and center in her hometown Columbus, Ohio with cameras and music in tow as she parades around to different locations. Joining her in the musical ditty is choreographer and former backup dancer for Lady Gaga, Mark Kanemura. The Tune, “Treat Yourself” is catchy and fun ending with a vital message of self-care: know your HIV status.


A couple of things about this video.  First – Holy Crap!  Nina West is amazing.  I didn’t watch the last season of RPDR, but now, seeing her performance, I may have to at least look back at her highlights. Second – What a great tourism video for Columbus! The video was shot in Short North, renowned as Columbus’ gayborhood, and follows Nina and Mark as they visit Jeni’s Ice Cream, Torso clothing store, hair salon bangSTUDIOS, Union Café, and North Market. And Third – The video is a great opening to having that conversation.  Does this catchy tune and great scenery help swallow the pill that is HIV/AIDS testing?

After touring around Columbus, the pair end up at Equitas Health, a full-service, non-profit medical center with multiple locations in Columbus and in other cities. These centers have a great reputation for outreach to their LGBTQ neighbors.

And yes, the video’s intent is fully known.  It’s a commercial for OraQuick, the only in-home oral HIV test approved by the FDA, can be purchased online or in drugstores, takes 20 minutes, and it’s the same one doctors use professionally.

Even if you don’t use their product, the video sponsored by OraQuick has helped us start a conversation about Nina West, Columbus, and staying current on our status.

So, in closing, Nina – I’m a new fan, Columbus – we need to go on a date, Everyone – have that conversation, start talking. 


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