POZ leads HIV-positive voter registration campaign

NEW YORK: POZ Magazine is teaming up with four AIDS-awareness organizations for an online absentee ballot drive targeting HIV-positive citizens launched today.

NEW YORK: POZ Magazine is teaming up with four AIDS-awareness organizations for an online absentee ballot drive targeting HIV-positive citizens launched today.

The sponsors, which include the National Association of People with AIDS, Housing Works, Community HIV/ AIDS Mobilization Project, and AIDSVote.org, will direct their members to POZ.com, where they can fill out an online absentee ballot request for any state in America.

A media-outreach campaign and "Whistle Stop Tour" rallies are also planned to increase participation.

Organizers hope that HIV-positive Americans who may be too ill to visit the polls in November will still be able to make their political presence felt.

Still, the voter drive is targeting an audience that can be difficult to penetrate.

"People who are managing any chronic illness are often overwhelmed with information," said Shana Krochmal, the freelance PR consultant managing the campaign and a former deputy editor of POZ. "They have a personal understanding of how politics affects their lives, but it's still not the most important thing they need to get through their day."

Sean Strub, the founder and publisher of POZ, believes that those living with AIDS are disproportionately impacted by public policy decisions.

"It's very important for people with HIV to take part in the political system and vote," Strub said.

Several hours after the ballot drive was unveiled, Strub said he was "delighted" with the response. But Krochmal cautioned that it would be difficult to gauge the results due to the relatively new procedure of soliciting absentee ballots online.

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