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Los Angeles Prevention Ads Pull No Punches

February 2, 2006

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently launched its HIV prevention social marketing campaign "HIV: Not Fabulous." On mobile billboards and in gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual media, the AHF ads graphically illustrate some of the problems experienced by HIV patients, from the realities of infection to the side effects of therapy.

"We tested about seven or eight concepts and this issue by far was the one that most resonated with the individuals targeted, HIV-negative men" in Los Angeles County, said Karen Hall, AHF's director of prevention and testing. "The issue resonates with them, they wanted the whole truth." The ads are also partly a response to AIDS drug advertisements that inaccurately reflect the health consequences of HIV infection, she said.

One ad features a man, naked except for an adult diaper, who graphically says he is afraid to leave his house for fear of soiling himself. "If I do go out, I can't be far from a bathroom. It bothers me when guys who don't have HIV think it's not that bad. I'm glad I'm still alive, but there's no substitute for being HIV-negative. If you don't have it, don't get it!" the caption reads. Another ad features a man whose belly is bloated from lipodystrophy. Still another ad depicts facial wasting.

"It's difficult," said Hall. "How do you stigmatize the disease and not stigmatize the community? We're trying to show the consequences of HIV, and I don't think it's fair not to tell that story to the community, people who are negative, just because it might hurt people's feelings." She acknowledged the campaign has garnered both criticism and praise.

Launched in December, the ads will eventually be placed on stationary billboards, said Hall. Other ads will focus on the permanent need for frequent visits to the doctor and the stigma associated with HIV disclosure.

Back to other news for February 2, 2006

Adapted from:
Bay Windows (Boston)
02.02.2006; Ethan Jacobs

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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