HGTV star David Bromstad has teamed up with Janssen Therapeutics to begin a new HIV testing initiative. The Know Yourself: Get tested for HIV campaign kicked off yesterday with a special focus on members of the gay community who are at higher risk of HIV infection. Bromstad, winner of the first season of HGTV's Design Star and current host of Color Splash, will use his artistic ability to create a community inspired traveling mural to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. The mural will be unveiled at an event in New York for Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in September. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are most severely affected with more than 53% of the new HIV infections occurring within this population according to the Center for Disease Control.
Bromstad sat down for an interview about the mural, scare tactics, and why he is seeking input from the community to design this very important piece.
Tell me how you teamed up with Janssen Therapeutics.
I actually did a video with Janssen Therapeutics about HIV awareness. After we did the video it was a natural progression to start this project. We want to really educate people in the community and get them tested for HIV.
How can art encourage people to get tested?
I wanna do what I do best and that is to do a mural. I'm a painter and a designer and I'm excited about coming up with a a really fun mural that also has a great message. The mural will bring art into the community and will be traveling around. It's going to be an encouraging banner of awareness. I just want to be a beacon out there in the community and show people that you shouldn't be afraid. It's better to know than not know at all.
Do you feel that scare tactics, such as the New York Health Department's graphic ads for getting gay men to get tested, are necessary sometimes to shake up the gay community?
I am not about scaring people into doing things. I am an encourager. Scare tactics are good for some people but not for the people that I want to reach out to. I think sometimes that young people believe they are invincible. They watch movies or they watch TV and they think 'I'm not going to catch anything'. Maybe that would work for them. But there will not be any bad type of stuff on my mural.
Why do you want to include the community in the design of this mural?
I'm a collaborator when it comes to art and design. I think that the strongest ideas and the ones that are rated the best are the ones that come from a collaborative effort. And yes I have ideas but I think they can be tweaked and pruned. They are not perfect. But you can come up with a more perfect solution with more brain power behind it.
How can the community contribute their ideas to the mural?
I'm on Twitter @bromco and you can go to my Facebook Fan page and send your ideas that way.
David Bromstad's mural will be in the New York area after its debut in September. Perhaps with a little fan persuasion (hint, hint) David can bring it to D.C. next.
Send Candace an e-mail.