GSK's ViiV Healthcare launches new podcast with stories of Black gay and queer men

GlaxoSmithKline's HIV-focused venture ViiV Healthcare will launch a new podcast featuring well-known Black gay and queer men in the U.S. talking about their experiences.

Aimed predominantly but not exclusively at that audience, the "Being Seen" podcast hopes to provide an in-depth, authentic and intimate look into the stars' lives in hopes of igniting real understanding. Black gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected by HIV in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and make up more than one-fourth of new HIV diagnosis annually.

The show, which makes its debut Tuesday, is co-produced by award-winning writer and activist Darnell Moore and agency Harley & Co.

Marc Meachem, external affairs head for ViiV in North America, said the streaming audio series reflects the company's work within the HIV community. “The first thing you need to do is listen and really get an understanding. And these dialogues, these community voices that we are raising up in the podcast, are part of that effort."

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The podcast is hosted by Moore and consists of 10 episodes featuring a mix of well-known figures from different creative fields. They include "Harper's Bazaar" Editor-in-Chief Samira Nasr, poet Saeed Jones, film and television writer Lee Daniels and musician Luke James.

In each 35-minute episode, Moore and his guest will discuss their experiences being Black and gay and queer in America along with breaking stigmas and stereotypes. But Meachem emphasized that the stories are universal.

"I think that a story from a Black gay man is an American story just like a story from a Chinese American or from any group,” he said.

This isn’t the first time ViiV has used an unconventional and creative format to humanize and embrace the Black gay and queer experience. It worked with Harley & Co last year on off-Broadway show "As Much As I Can," which told the real-life stories of Black gay and bisexual men in Baltimore and Jackson, Mississippi. 

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ViiV is a full collaborator when it comes to these initiatives, Meachem said.

“I say we're part of the HIV community," he said. "[T]hat this group of people are willing to partner with us … on this project is a testament to that.”

ViiV Healthcare markets HIV treatments including Dovato, Juluca and Triumeq. It's also working toward HIV prevention; the GSK unit recently posted positive PrEP data for its bi-monthly injectable med cabotegravir. The company plans to file for an FDA approval for the drug in the first half of 2021.