Updated: Jun 12
Last year, the HIV2020 Alliance launched a global call for submissions for community members to help us design a logo for the first ever HIV2020 conference. Designers were asked to come up with a logo that directly related to the core mission of HIV2020 of building community strength and breaking down barriers in access to care and other resources for those who need it most.
Out of more than a dozen submissions, Jon Gabriel Ortiz was selected as the winner for his beautiful design.
Ortiz is the Digital Marketing Director at THRIVE SS, an organization based in Atlanta whose mission is to improve health equity for black gay men living with HIV in the United States through direct support, advocacy, and building collective power.
We had a chance to chat with Jon Gabriel and learn more about his work and his submission for the design challenge.
HIV2020: Congratulations on having your logo selected and thank you for your beautiful design! Can you tell us more about the concept behind the logo and why you submitted to be part of HIV2020?
Jon Gabriel Ortiz: Thank you! This was my first time ever entering a logo contest. My work has always been for the community and I’m always excited to do work around HIV and AIDS. As someone who is living with HIV, this cause is very dear to my heart.
I wanted to translate the ‘global response’ by including the silhouette of a global map overlayed with a dotted connection graphic to show that we will need to work together to make the mission work. I chose the color scheme of the Mexican Flag (Red, Green and White) since it is being held in Mexico City. The stencil font with the faux camouflage is an homage to the guerilla tactics that graphic designers use to impose independent, forward thinking messaging on establishment policies. I believe that this is what it will take to break down those barriers.
I’m so excited to attend HIV 2020 to get more information and gain tools that I can use in the work I do with THRIVE SS as the Director of Digital Marketing and my direct involvement with our many programs.
H: Can you tell us more about Thrive SS’s work?
JGO: Thrive SS is a local organization for people living with HIV. Our work involves looking at health disparities among our communities and trying to make a difference however we can. We have a network of over 3000 black gay men in the US, but we primarily work with 900 brothers living here in Atlanta.
What’s different about Thrive SS that I love is that we’re entirely member led. All decisions come from the bottom to the top. Whatever the regional community tells us to do, we do. We’re hosting a vogue ball coming up in August, which is something that our community has been asking us to do for a few years now, so we’re going to do it!
THRIVE SS is known for creating the “Undetectables Model” – a tiered peer support model that combines online support, traditional in-person support, and friend/social/ “Judy support” – to address issues that Black people living with HIV often face. In the United States, many people of color living with HIV have trouble reaching viral suppression or “Undetectable” status, disclosing their HIV status to partners, family, and friends, addressing their hierarchy of needs (shelter, employment, medical care) and gaining support. The mission of THRIVE SS is to improve health equity for Black gay men living with HIV through direct support, advocacy, and building collective power.
H: How did you get into this work and what do you think are some of the biggest challenges in the field of HIV right now?
JGO: My birth mother passed of HIV complications in 1988 when I was living in New York. I’ve worked in the HIV field for a long time, but I got frustrated with “HIV Inc.” as I call it, so in 2008 I decided to leave the HIV field to get a degree in design.
I was working freelance for clients for a long time, but saw that organizations like ThriveSS needed help with branding and getting their messaging out. So I started doing graphic work specifically within the HIV field.
I’m very proud of our work at Thrive SS. Even though we have a good amount of people working out in the field, we still deal with lots of challenges in the South. There are a lot of issues getting people to care, dealing with our homelessness crisis, and food deserts where people don’t have access to basic resources. The work becomes challenging because even with the best intentions of our foot soldiers, we have to deal with large organizations and structural barriers that inhibit us from making progress.
Right now at Thrive SS, we have a program called R3 which is “Reengage, Retain and Reduce” focused on getting people who have stopped receiving treatment for HIV back into care. Our goal is to utilize our support networks of black gay men living with HIV to find and reconnect those lost to HIV care to the services required to not just survive but THRIVE while living with HIV.