STILL THRILLED TO BE SPREADING THE IMPORTANCE OF HIV TESTING
ALMOST A YEAR AGO I HAD THE HONOR OF INTERVIEWING THE ANIMATED TV PERSONALITY ROSS MATHEWS, WHO JUST COMPLETED HIS SECOND SEASON OF THE HIT SERIES “HELLO ROSS,” WHEN HE HAD PARTNERED UP WITH ORAQUICK, THE FIRST FDAAPPROVED ORAL SWAB, IN-HOME, RAPID HIV TESTING KIT. I WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO ONCE AGAIN HAVE THE PLEASURE OF SPEAKING WITH ROSS, THIS YEAR’S GRAND MARSHAL OF THE SAN FRANCISCO PRIDE PARADE, AS HE CONTINUES HIS QUEST OF CONVEYING THE IMPORTANCE OF HIV TESTING TO THE COMMUNITY.
A long way from the small town where he grew up, Ross’ adventures led him to begin his career as an intern on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Among his other credits include appearances on “Days of Our Lives,” “Interior Therapy,” “The View” and “Chelsea Lately,” E’s late-night talk show. He has also done the red carpet with Kelly Osbourne and proudly has a national best-selling book, “Man Up, Tales of My Delusional Self Confidence.”While talking with Ross, I detected a sense of urgency…rather, a radiant passion and excitement about releasing his message of acting responsibly and finding out your HIV status, using the simplicity and convenience of OraQuick. It wasn’t as if he was simply endorsing a product, but rather unquestionably believing in OraQuick from the depths of his soul. Once again, I implore you to read the information carefully, as it could save your life.
Hi Ross, how are you?
Fine, I’m super duper. Thank you!
How have you been since we last spoke?
I’ve been so great; I’ve been so busy. I’m actually packing to go to New York right now. You’re in New York, aren’t you?
I’m gonna go there just for a day and then we have San Francisco Pride, which is so exciting!
Last year when you teamed up with OraQuick, we had an amazing conversation.
Well, can you please refresh everyone’s memory? What exactly is OraQuick, and how does it work?
OraQuick is the way to know your status in 2014. There’s no excuse anymore. Dealing with the needles, the blood, the wait time and the panic…now you can do it in your own home in 20 minutes. You just swab your mouth. It’s the same test the doctors give, and it’s available in all drug stores on every corner or at OraQuick.com. In 20 minutes you will know your status. It’s revolutionary.
Since we last spoke, are there any statistics showing that OraQuick sales have escalated, possibly proving awareness has risen?
Well, I can tell you this: When I first started, when OraQuick first approached me, I wasn’t aware of the technology, and I was kinda shocked that I wasn’t. I did a small test: I asked my friends, and they didn’t know about it either. But, I’ll tell you, in the past year I’ve been talking about OraQuick and how simple it is to know your status, and affordable, and quick because of OraQuick. As I travel the country and speak more about it, I’m finding personally – an unscientific study – I’m finding that people are much more aware of it. So I hope that translates into sales, but mostly I hope that’s translating into people being responsible in knowing their status.
Recently, I’ve had several younger kids from the club come to me and admit to using OraQuick. One even said it saved his life, because although he wasn’t positive he was scared that he might have been. After I yelled at him for being in the position to even be scared, I was glad he was aware of OraQuick.
That’s great. That really makes me happy. I have to tell you, because that’s why I did this in the first place, to let people know about something that just blew my mind – is that I didn’t know, I should have known. I would wanna know, and I’d want everyone I dated to know. Like on the third date, when you’re gonna get a little frisky, I’d say let’s have an OraQuick party. Before cocktails we would both swab and then revisit in 20 minutes.
That’s a great idea, I love that. Now, you’re a 19-year-old gay male who has taken the test at home, you’re all alone and you’ve just gotten a positive result. Instead of freaking out, what can he do?
Well, he’s not alone. As much as he is alone ‘cause it’s home testing, he’s not alone because there is a 24-hour hotline that OraQuick provides where you can call and talk to someone, in both English and Spanish, who can actually do a few things. They can make sure you did the test right, which you probably did ‘cause it’s so simple. They can be there for you so you’re not alone, and then also, more importantly, direct you to a multitude of places to go once you know your status. By the way, that’s how cool OraQuick is in terms of how they thought of everything. This is really so people will know their status and know what to do once they know. That’s why I’m so impressed with the company, the brand, the product and the people behind it. When they came to me, I asked all these questions you are asking – what it is, what happens to a 19-year-old kid alone – and I was impressed with what’s available.
How much is it?
It’s around $40. It’s not “nothing,” but I think it’s affordable for what it is, the convenience of it. It’s available in a drugstore or OraQuick.com.
Is there anything new or different about OraQuick since we last spoke?
I’ve been traveling the country, and everywhere I go I talk about OraQuick. I’ll be at San Francisco Pride. I’ll be grand marshal talking about OraQuick all weekend in San Francisco. The awareness of the product, the technology. The product is already perfect.
So you’re going to be grand marshal of the Pride parade in San Francisco?
Isn’t that exciting!
It’s so exciting. You must feel blessed. It’s amazing!
It is amazing; you know, it’s a dream. It really is, just because one of the reasons I started on my journey is I wanted #1 to be a talk show host and #2 I wanted to provide an example that wasn’t there when I was a kid. You know, growing up in a small farm town, I didn’t know what it meant to be, like, having a grown up that was gay. It wasn’t out there; it wasn’t on TV. Just being grand marshal means that people are noticing, which makes me very happy.
You’re so excited.
OH MY GOD, I’m so excited. I can’t wait. For starters, I love San Francisco. I’m really good at waving. I’m good in a parade.
By the way, I recently saw your boyfriend. He’s so hot!
I know, right?!
I also saw you on The Food Network. You were hysterical.
I love The Food Network so much, ‘cause I love to cook, and when they asked me I was so excited. I got to stay for a whole day. It was really neat.
Ross, is there a sequel in the future for your best-selling book, “Man Up, Tales of My Delusional Self Confidence”?
You know what, I just wrote the treatment. I was in New York last week, and I was talking to my publishers, and they loved the idea – so hopefully. I just have to figure out which publisher I’m going with, but yeah, there will be another book coming. That’s a great idea.
How about a movie?
Not yet, but you never know.
You’ve just completed your second season of “Hello Ross” on E. What’s going on with the show?
Well, we’re on hiatus. We just finished season two, and I’m so proud of the show – it’s so fun, so positive. So we are on hiatus for three months, and then E has a certain amount of time to decide to bring us back or not. I’ll tell you, no matter what happens, I’m still extremely proud of it.
You’re so funny.
I’m OK. You can always be funny and never once be mean. That means a lot to me.
Anything you would like to promote?
Mostly I’m just so appreciative of you helping us spread the word, the technology. I’m thrilled that in your area, your community people are using OraQuick and taking advantage of the technology. It means the work we are doing, all the campaigns, that it’s working. Hopefully we will see that because of this, the number of cases of HIV will decrease. Thank you for helping us. The word is getting out, and I’m so thrilled. I can’t even tell you. I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled.