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Robert Garofalo Named One of 16 HIV Advocates to Watch in 2016

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We’re excited to share that our founder Robert Garofalo was named one of 16 HIV Advocates to Watch for 2016 by HIV Plus MagazineWe are so honored to have our organization mentioned alongside a list of truly inspiring activists from around the world.

Here’s what writer and HIV activist Mark S. King, who compiles the list annually, had to say about our cause:

When you visit the Twitter page for Robert Garofalo, it isn’t really a page about him. It’s all about his dog, Fred. And that is the first thing you need to know about Robert’s activism. The Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University has devoted his career to the care of HIV-positive adolescents and has done a fair amount of HIV prevention interventions for young men who have sex with men and young transgender women. But let’s get back to the dog.

Robert founded Fred Says to raise money for agencies across the country that care for HIV-positive young people. “I wanted to do something that was personal and creative,” says Robert, “and that tapped into the gratitude I had for my dog, Fred, who quite literally saved my life after my own HIV diagnosis in 2010.”

The photo essay project When Dogs Heal, launched in 2015, was the result. “Our hope was to change the narrative about HIV to be about love, hope, survival and thriving while living with HIV — all while giving credit to the healing powers of our pets,” says Robert. “Our hope in 2016 is to turn When Dogs Heal into a traveling art exhibit and to turn the project into a book, where the proceeds would support the charitable mission of Fred Says.”

Charles Sanchez, the writer and star of the web series Merce, which features a lead character living with HIV, knows a little something about employing creative talents as an advocacy tool. “Sometimes a dog is more than just a man’s best friend, but also his best medicine,” says Charles. “Rob’s project has the potential to change people’s minds about what someone with HIV looks like. His work inspires me.”

Have you experienced of the healing power of a dog’s love? We’d love to hear from you. Share Your Story to be featured on our website.

Even $1 can make a difference in the life of an HIV-affected teen. Please consider making a donation to FredSays.org today.