PosOrNot.com: Most depressing use of Internet meme ever?

So the good people of mtvU and the Kaiser Family Foundation launched PosOrNot yesterday, an HIV-awareness site in which visitors try to decide, based on a few personal facts, whether the attractive young people popping up on the screen are HIV positive or negative. Every picture features that individual’s full HIV story once you’ve clicked through, and celebs like Will.i.am, Alyssa Milano, and Wyclef Jean, plus bands like Fall Out Boy have signed on to support the project. At the top of the page, it has options like "Get Informed" and "Get Tested." The full effect is also 97 percent better designed and nicer to look at than the site it clearly takes its concept from.

Now, I grew up in the height of the AIDS crisis, and circumstances caused me to understand the disease earlier than some people my age. Through my teenage years — the same demo I’d assume PosOrNot.com is trying to reach — I found myself powerfully affected by the AIDS Memorial Quilt that traveled the country, as well as musicals like Falsettos and Rent. In fact, while talking to original Rent cast members for our oral history earlier this spring, almost each and every one of them expressed shock and surprise at how readily this disease, now that it’s manageable, has been swept under the rug… but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still transmitting it, suffering from it, dying because of it.

I don’t know if this website can have the same emotional heft as those things that moved me as an impressionable youth, but it’s reassuring to see someone try. So, PopWatchers, take a second to stop by PosorNot.com, play it for a while, pass it on to your friends. Even if you don’t need educating about HIV/AIDS, use this opportunity to remember the folks we’ve lost. And then pray that, for some ungodly reason, this total downer of a game catches on with the youth of America, so that they might learn something today before they resume their usual busy schedules of posting drunken pictures on Facebook and having sex with strangers they met on the Craigslist.


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Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • Martha

    Thanks, Whitney, for the link. I was surprised at how wrong I was in playing the “pos or not” game. It seems like the issue of HIV/AIDS has been put on the back burner since the 80s and 90s, when marches and activism were in the news every day. It also seems like people are more cavalier about getting HIV since the anti-viral drugs came out, which is really unfortunate.

  • Snarf

    Inetersting. I was correct over 90% of the time. That being said the best way to protect yourself is to just assume anyone you hook up with is HIV Positive.

  • Shan

    I just wish the powers that be at MTV would stop talking out of both sides of their mouths on matters like this. HIV/AIDS awareness is every bit as important as it ever was, and I appreciate the occasional PSA, but I’d appreciate them much more if they weren’t sandwiched between “Tila Tequila” and “Next.”

  • snoof

    im glad you guys are paying attention the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is running rampant in our society. its amazing how many people really do live with this disease and don’t show it. it’d be nice for MTV to do a special show on HIV positive young adults living with the disease, you’d be surprised how many really are you there. that being said, my boyfriend of 5 years is HIV positive and he never “looked” like he was so I’m glad MTV came up with this site.

  • Sarah

    Yeah, all of the youth really do put up drunken pictures on Facebook. That’s all they do, actually. None of them practice safe sex or abstinence and would rather put ads to have crazy, unsafe sex with strangers. Good job on recognizing this!

  • jenny

    Right on, Whitney
    It really saddens me that the Paula Abdul post gets in excess of 300 comments and this one has less than 10. I know this is an “entertainment” site but… really?

  • PaperDoll

    How about addressing MENTAL ILLNESS?
    HIV/AIDS gets a ton – especially with fund raisers.
    National Association of the Mentally Ill needs more props!
    WWW . NAMI . ORG

  • b in chicago

    I’ve been Positive for over 4 years and you’d never know it – I’ve had people make jokes about HIV in front of me not realizing I am positive. There are many who do exhibit certain physical traits from something called lypodystrophy but, whether someone shows the effects of HIV or not, everyone who lives with this disease experiences some mental and/or physical issues as a result of HIV and/or the medicines at some point during their time living positive. What it comes down to is assume everyone you sleep with is positive, never assume someone is either telling you the truth about their status or knows their status for sure. Only you can protect you. Living with HIV still sucks even today but, luckily, we are the first generation for whom living with HIV can truly be living.

  • Mike McGee

    That website was pretty easy to figure out. Basically, the doctors didn’t have HIV, people who fit the racial/class stereotype also didn’t have HIV, and everyone else looked clean cut and white and so did have HIV. Pretty manipulative. Are these real cases?

  • MJ

    This site was very helpful and i have never thought you could look at sombody and tel they are HIV positive. I think our fight is with the young people as well, besides the teenage pregnacies a lot of young girls think they have to have sex to a boyfriend. i did not know how high the numbers was for people living with this disease.

  • luxury watch

    It’s good! rolex watch?
    luxury watch?

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