Mondo Guerra of Project Runway Season 8 and Jack Mackenroth of Season 4 were in Chicago to help bring awareness to their HIV campaign, Living Positive by Design, at the United States Conference of AIDS. The pair shared bits of their stories about living with the disease and how it has affected their lives today.
Mackenroth admits that he always wanted to reveal that he was HIV positive from the start of his season on Project Runway. “I went in knowing that this was something I wanted to talk about,” Mackenroth said. “I felt that it was better to get that out in the open from the beginning.”
From a complete opposite spectrum, Guerra went in with no such intentions. “It was never something that I thought I would be dealing with… on national television, no less,” Guerra explained. “This will be my first time participating in the largest HIV gathering in the country, and I hope to encourage others living with HIV to maintain a positive outlook on life.” Guerra also wanted to start breaking down the stigma of those who are HIV positive. “It’s a double strike in the Hispanic community to be gay and have HIV. I wanted to show that there are people living with the disease and that they don’t have to be afraid.”
Both Guerra and Mackenroth stressed that they respond to every single message that they receive from fans. “Whether it takes me a few days a or a couple of months, I make sure to get back to everyone,” said Mackenroth. “When I know that I had the possibility to save someone’s life, I know it’s worth it.”
Living Positive by Design is an HIV education campaign supported by Merck that encourages people living with the disease to maintain a positive outlook on life while working with their doctor to manage their disease. Since the disease started less than three decades ago, this is now considered the longest period of those living with HIV and AIDS. There are now more side effects and growing pains from the disease to consider than ever before. You can check out the infamous button dress and more info about the event at the Living Positive by Design website!
– Taneisha Jordan