ViiV brings together sons and mothers of all kinds in new initiative for HIV

GSK’s HIV-focused ViiV Healthcare taps into the powerful relationship of mother and son to facilitate the conversation around not only sexual health and HIV care in the Black and Latinx gay and queer communities but also self-worth and identity.

The initiative debuted at the National Latinx Conference earlier this month and draws on Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son.”

The digital campaign features portraits from both national and local photo shoots showing that a “mother” need not be one’s biological mother or even a woman, but really a loving and guiding force.

“A lot of times here in the U.S. we find Black and Latinx men, especially within the ballroom community, having to go outside of their biological family and find chosen family because of some of the religious aspects related to how their families may see their sexual orientation and the various different reasons that may not allow them to feel the sense of belonging in their biological family's household,” P.J. Moton-Poole, senior manager, external affairs North America at ViiV Healthcare, said in an interview with Fierce Pharma Marketing. 

The affection the subjects have for each other is evident in the portraits, which are also available to download in both English and Spanish as a booklet (PDF). The campaign also features a bilingual conversation guide (PDF) to help get the talk going. The focus is less on HIV and sexual aspects and more on how the people want to be seen, to be loved, and it’s these traction points that Moton-Poole says are what motivates people to access HIV prevention or care if necessary.

“I want people to really get to the heart and the humanity in this work, but I definitely want people to take away that it is really helping address and reduce the stigma in the Black and brown communities as it relates to talking about HIV and sexual health in general. I want to empower mothers to have these conversations with their sons and empower sons to bring the conversations to their mothers in a way that is not harmful or scary, but in a way that is empowering and beautiful and really celebrates the vulnerability that is a manifestation of that relationship."

Moton-Poole added that ultimately, "we want people to be more engaged in the conversation around connecting to HIV care," and know that there are "options [and] resources that are available to you."

"It's more than just about the virus in the body, but it's about how you see yourself in proximity to HIV and how you see yourself and your ability to access those services when and if needed,” he added. 

One of the subjects in the photos is Darnell Moore, who hosts ViiV’s award-winning “Being Seen” podcast, and his mother, Diane. There is no mention of any product at all in the campaign, but of course, ViiV’s whole portfolio is focused on HIV and AIDS drugs, including the cabotegravir franchise, which comprises the Cabenuva treatment and Apretude for PrEP as well as Dovato, a single pill with two meds.