The HIV-Positive Fashion Graduate Smashing The Stigma

You won't be in the dark about the fact HIV is still heavily stigmatised, even in our ~progressive~ society. But fashion designer Jacob Alexander is hoping to educate, as well as combat misinformation fed to, the masses.

After being diagnosed with the virus, the 22-year old London College of Fashion (LCF) graduate's life turned upside down. Not only was he faced with a fatal disease, but the stigma he experienced post-diagnosis was deadly itself.

On top of his housemate no longer wanting to share a fridge, many people he has told have responded with "idiotic questions". One even "flinched". That only made living with HIV even harder. But his revolutionary new app, The Positive Project, hopes to reverse this.

jacob alexander positive

(Photo: Adrian Lourie)

Announcing the app back in May during a TED talk that moved the audience to tears and struck a chord with viewers online, The Positive Project could truly change the game for those with HIV.

With each part written by Alexander himself, the app – which he developed while prepping for his final collection at LCF – not only hopes to destigmatise the disease, but educate and provide practical support for users.

Stuff you might find on the app includes advice about where to find clinics in the area, what to do if your partner's HIV positive, a section where users can personally ask Jacob questions anonymously and a 'selfie map'. The map is for users to upload photos of themselves and pinpoint their location to form a map of solidarity. The passionate young designer hopes the map will reach every city in the world.

Alexander told Evening Standard why he launched the app. And it's not just because he contracted HIV. He explained:


"Since my diagnosis I have been at war with myself but I’ve tried to turn it into something great. 

"I want people to understand that I’ve not made the app because I’ve got HIV. I’ve made it because of the way I was treated afterwards. I don’t want anyone else to be treated like that or lose friends the way I did."


In the strange turn of events, Alexander had already pitched his graduate collection before the diagnosis – designs to raise awareness of HIV. The collection, O+ by JACOB ALXNDR, was shown at London College of Fashion Menswear Takeover last month.

If you wanna get involved with smashing the stigma, merchandise designed by Alexander is available to buy and The Positive Project app is available on iPhone and Android now.

Read More - > Thailand eliminates mother-to-baby HIV transmission

By Lydia Morrish, published on 04/07/2016