TV personality Ross Mathews, star of the new hit television show on E, “Hello Ross”, and the author of his new nationally bestselling book “Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self Confidence,” has partnered with “Ora Quick,” the first FDA approved oral swab in-home rapid HIV test kit, to launch the Life as We Know It campaign in honor of “National Gay Men ’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ,” which was
September 27. Although there are many messages out there telling the communities most at risk about the urgency of testing, the Life as We Know It campaign was created to shake up the conversation about sexual health and HIV testing. It was designed to spark conversations about topics worth knowing such as sex, love and health.
Ross Mathews began his career as an intern behind the scenes of “The Tonight Show” with how Jay Leno. He has appeared weekly on E’s late-night talk show “Chelsea Lately,” had a guest role on “Days of Our Lives,” appeared on “Interior Therapy” with Jeff Lewis and hosted on “The View” in 2007. He has done the red carpet with Kelly Osborne and has appeared on various segments of “The Tonight Show” such as the skit “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.” His interview was energetic, genuine and so informative. Please read it slowly and carefully as it may save a life – and that life could be yours.
First of all, I want to wish you happy Gay Men’s Awareness Day.
Isn’t it great! I mean, listen, it’s great to bring awareness to this. I’m so lucky to have a platform, and it’s not lost on me for a minute that I have a unique sort of direct line to the LBGT community. So, it’s important to talk about things like this, I think. I understand that in honor of Gay Men’s HIV Awareness Day you’ve teamed up with OraQuick, the first FDAapproved oral swab in-home rapid HIV test kit. I did! Of course I’ll tell you right now, I was shocked to hear about it. You know, I’m pretty tuned in. I have my finger on the pulse of things, but I had no idea that this kind of test existed and how easy it is. Just a swab of your mouth and 20 minutes later you can find out your status. I was shocked, and it’s available at every pharmacy in the country. I had no idea.
The Life as We Know It campaign that has you teamed up with OraQuick: how exactly does that work? What is it?
Well, here’s the deal: Right now, in our country, there’s a rise in HIV status, and 63% of the new cases of HIV are gay men, and I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it ‘cause of how I was raised. I was in elementary school in the late ‘80s and ‘90s when HIV and AIDS was really prevalent, and we were taught in school about safety and to be very afraid of HIV and AIDS because it is still very dangerous. The fact that it’s rising in our community baffles me, and like I said, I wasn’t aware this kind of testing existed. I thought you still went to a clinic or to a doctor and had to wait a couple of days, and that’s what I did when my partner and I got together because it was the responsible thing to do. But now, in 2013, you can go to the pharmacy and take it home and just swab your mouth, no needles, no blood, and learn your status in 20 minutes. It’s unacceptable to me that people don’t know their status. It’s way too easy to know. It’s your responsibility to know.
I agree. It seems that lately the younger gay males don’t seem to care. They seem to be very nonchalant about being tested. How can OraQuick help, and how expensive is it?
The first thing they ask is how much it is and we don’t have money. As you said, there’s no excuse for someone not to be tested.Well, I’ll tell you why it is $39 for the test: It takes 20 minutes, you don ‘t have to go to the doctor, you don’t have to use blood – it could not be more simple. It’s affordable, and if you are out there having sex, whether it’s protected or not, you should know yor status,
1. because it affects your life and
2. because it affects anybody you’re with. It affects their life as well. So the kids who say, “I don’t know, I don’t know my status and I don’t care,” they’re not living in reality. It’s OK to go out and have fun and party, but you have to be a grow up at the same time.
OK, let’s suppose these kids go this test and they test positive. What can they do immediately, because it’s going to be scary?
Absolutely, and that was my first question when I was asked to work with OraQuick – what happens if that happens? You don’t want to be home alone if that happens, and you never are. There’s a 1-800 line with trained professionals – 24 hours, 7 days a week. You could call and they will answer any questions immediately right then and there. They will hook you up with a medical professional. That’s great, because if I were a kid and I tested positive I don’t even know how I’d act. Well, it’s also ‘cause we live in the day and age where there’s a lot of medication. If you test positive it doesn’t mean what it used to mean. You can live a long, healthy, very productive life. It’s a different age, but you do need to know because it’s about passing it on. If you are transmitting it to other people, you know, it’s not cool.
How can this campaign, Life as We Know It, get the word out there to kids in the gay population?
Well, I’ll tell you – I’m doing everything I can to get the message out. I’m talking to people like you, I travel around the country speaking to colleges, I’ll be grand marshall at the Palm Springs Pride and at Michigan State Pride in Lansing, Michigan, and we’re spreading the word everywhere we can. Like I said, I have a platform on my show, “Hello Ross.” I speak to billions of people every week. But I’m also out there in the real world meeting people and talking to people. I have a direct line to this community where I take this so seriously, and I’m thrilled to be working with OraQuick, because, like I said, since the very beginning of our conversation, I didn’t know someone as clued in as me to this community. I wasn’t aware just how easy it is in 2013 to know your status, and I feel like there are a lot of people like me.
A lot of great things have happened in your life like “The Tonight Show” and doing the red carpet with Kelly Osborne.
I did write a book – “Man Up”!
I know, “Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self Confidence,” in which you credit your mother for that. I do credit my mom for my selfconfidence. She was always there whether I was good or not. In school plays, she told me I was wonderful and I could do anything and “Oh honey! You were the best!”
I want to hear some more about your new show. What’s the premise for “Hello Ross”?
You know, tonight is our fourth episode, and we’ve already been picked up for more episodes until the end of the year. It’s huge. Thatis so fast for that to happen, and the reason that it happened is because the audience is getting it and they’re showing up and they’re
watching it. It’s a place for pop culture and super fans to come together and be nice. I think there are so many shows that tear up pop culture and talk about how stupid it is, and that’s not how I roll. This show is, I love it, you love it, let’s talk it out. When I’m talking about the biggest stories in the word and have the biggest stars in the world there, I’m giving the audience microphones, giving the fans an opportunity to share their point of view and ask me questions and video chat with people from across the country.
Is there anything else you’d like to promote?
The show “Hello Ross” is for the fans – you know, “Hello Ross.” Tweet us at @HelloRoss, share your opinions. That’s the way we decide what we’re going to talk about each week, by what our viewers are talking about on social media.
You know, keep the conversation going. I just want to make sure these kids that being tested doesn’t have to be scary. That they can do it really quick and know. They just go to OraQuick.com and order it. It comes to their house, and in 20 minutes they will know their
status. They’ll be a grown up, responsible person. One last question, Ross. If because of your book they were going to make a movie one day, who would you pick to be you and why?
Oh my goodness! Well, he’d have to be dashing, have a certain sex appeal. You know, I think everyone would agree it would have to be the Zac Efron type. I would take Mario Lopez as well.