|Do It Clean With Jack Mackenroth|
"I've got a handful of this, What do I do with it
I've got a barrel of this, What do I do with it
I do it clean" - "Do It Clean" Echo & The Bunnymen
His latest campaign in the fight is "We Are ALL Clean" #weareALLclean - It's a selfie crusade of you, yes you, contributing an image of, who else? Yourself in the shower.
So grab your bar of soap and let's do it clean, with Jack!
MS: You've had HIV for a long time, at what age did you contract it?
JM: I was diagnosed when I was twenty-one, but my serio-conversion happened when I was nineteen or twenty. I've had it my whole adult life.
MS: Does the length of time you've had it inform the way you present yourself as an activist to people? It's not flippant in any way, but you have a sense of humor, also your videos are very friendly and accessible.
JM: Yeah, I've been through enough of shaming and discrimination, all of that shit. Negativity doesn't work so...people have gotten on my case saying: You're trying to glamorize it, or being slight about it. Well you know what? I know my truth and fear based education does not work. What do you tell these kids today? They get HIV and they don't care. I'm like listen, you don't want it, it's natural if you get it. First of all get educated and get tested because now we have fucking PREP to make you not get it. There's all this other information out there, so if were not talking about it, the stigma, fear and discrimination are going to keep people from not doing what they need to do to keep themselves and the community healthy. There are a lot of HIV positive people who reach out to me that are freaking out and I always tell them "You're going to be fine, just go to the doctor." If you catch it early and you take your medication like you are supposed to your going to be fine. The other good news is we now know that if you do take your meds and your viral loads are undetectable that you are also not contagious.
MS: Early detection and taking your medication is important. If you do both everything will be fine.
JM: Well I credit my long term survival to luck and intuition. I come from a medical family my Dads a doctor and my Mom is a nurse and we always had a pill for everything. When I was first diagnosed there was only AZT, they were all fairly toxic, but I liked taking something that might work. Back then a lot of people were waiting and not taking the meds available because they thought they were toxic - the doctors recommended that you wait until your T-Cells fell below 250 and then you would go on the meds. They now know in retrospect that was a horrible idea, when your immune system is that depleted you can't come back. Where as if you catch it immediately and go on the medication you are totally fine.
MS: What your doing is great, it really is designed to make people feel comfortable.
JM: Thanks I appreciate that. I think we as a community get enough negative messaging from people straight and gay saying things like " Shame on you how can you be positive at forty eight, don't you know better?" and I'm like "Fuck you!" I haven't done anything you haven't done, Straight people always have unsafe sex and they could very well have HIV it's just not as concentrated in the straight population. So don't judge me.
MS: There seems to be less of a stigma than there used to be.
JM: Well it depends on where you live and who you are around. There are still people who are my age and have had it for a decade who are still weird about telling people. That's just not me I'm horrible at keeping a personal secret anyway. Fuck I told everyone on national TV when I did Project Runway. (laughs)
: So talk about your current project We Are ALL Clean.
JM: I literally just launched today - that's why I said Oh my God I need a break and called you. I'm working with this gay social media outlet called MOOVZ and they're very big in Latin America. It's sort of like Twitter meets Facebook, I'm not very good at it yet, it's also big in the Asian market. They are six hours ahead of me, and the other kid involved is a model/actor/dancer named Chris Salvatore he lives in Los Angeles so he is three hours ahead of me, so putting this all together is like a cluster fuck (laughs).
MS: Yeah I know about those cluster fuck type things. (laughs)
JM: So I had this idea, I thought: why isn't there an ALS ice bucket challenge for HIV? There should be. I've worked in non-profits and stuff for a long time and have done different fundraisers, it's really hard to raise money for it now because nobody sees the urgency anymore because people are not getting sick like they used to. We decided to figure out an HIV challenge that was media savvy and celebrities would be like: Another excuse for Kim Kardashian to show her ass, and would possibly have the legs to catch on. I posted my photo at noon today and it's blown up already, my twitter feed is exploding! Queerty, Instinct Magazine & The Huffington Post have all ran it. That's in the first day so I am hoping that's a good sign.
MS: Taking a shower selfie and using it to fund a cure for HIV is a fun idea! I saw some negative comments already on Queerty about using sex to raise money. Fuck that, there is nothing wrong with it, it sells and it works.
JM: Queerty is known for their negative commentators. Unless you are a sex addict and it becomes a problem in your life, having sex is healthy.
Join Jack & take the shower selfie challenge for HIV, I did. Find out how to participate or donate at the link below:
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