Key West Bear 2018 and activist Ryan Acosta’s thoughts on World AIDS Day

Today, for World AIDS Day, we ask former Key West Bear 2018 and HIV/AIDS activist, Ryan Acosta (AKA Poppy J Snacks) of Miami, Florida, to share their thoughts and experiences in the continuing global fight against HIV/AIDS. 

Kyle Jackson: Hi Ryan! My first question is, what makes you passionate about HIV/AIDS advocacy?

Ryan Acosta: Hey Kyle! I became more passionate about HIV/AIDS advocacy because, after being diagnosed with HIV myself back in 2014, I was able to see the discrimination and witness the bias that people hold against people like me, and it really shook me up. I couldn’t believe that, even with today’s modern treatments, there is still stigma against those that are Poz. So, I wanted to speak up and address this serious issue. 

KJ: What issues regarding HIV/AIDS advocacy would you like to see addressed more in the LGBTQ community?

RA: I just need everyone to understand this: Undetectable = Untransmittable. When a partner tells you they have HIV, you only need to be worried about if they are taking their medication daily and are getting blood work done. I really wish more people would do the research and educate themselves, and stop losing out on good sex or even love! We need to continue to stress routine testing, and for testing to be more normalized with those who are negative. We shouldn’t wait until we have a scare to get tested.

KJ: Do you belong to or support any HIV/AIDS advocacy groups?

RA: I don’t belong to any particular groups at the moment, but shout out to Smart Ride, Team Friendly, The Stigma Project, and all the other organizations that are constantly fighting this battle with the rest of us!

KJ: What message do you want to give today on World AIDS Day?

RA: I would like to stress that we should stop asking people if they are “clean” when asking about their STI status. You CAN have a healthy sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive and undetectable, even if you are negative. Find out about how you can get on PREP and get tested every 3-6 months. Also, please WEAR A MASK!

Follow Ryan on Instagram: @itsnotbrianitsryan

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.