October 5, 2010
Washington, D.C. -- Greater Than AIDS, a national movement supported by a broad coalition of public and private sector partners, today unveiled the latest phase of its campaign to mobilize Black Americans in response to the devastating epidemic which will mark its 30th year next June. Black Americans account for nearly half of new HIV infections occurring annually in the United States, while representing 13 percent of the population. In addition to being disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, Black Americans are also significantly more likely to die as a result as compared to other races and ethnicities in this country.
The cross-platform media campaign focuses on Deciding Moments, everyday opportunities to take a stand against HIV drawn from real-life stories of people from across the country -- including those living with HIV. Be it asking to be tested, buying (and using) condoms, correcting a piece of misinformation, or keeping up with one's medications, these simple acts serve to challenge the stigma surrounding HIV and stem its spread. These individuals opened up about their experiences in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. An interactive feature on the campaign's website -- www.greaterthan.org -- allows visitors to post their own deciding moments.
"As we prepare to close three decades of HIV/AIDS, this is our collective Deciding Moment as a people," said Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. "Black Americans have borne the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and now is the time to come together and do our part to change the course of this epidemic."
The Deciding Moments campaign begins rolling out outdoor, print and online public service advertising this month with television to follow later in the fall and will continue through next year. Leading media companies, including the American Urban Radio Network, CBS Outdoor and Radio, Clear Channel Communications, Ebony, ESSENCE Communications, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and Radio One, among others, are providing significant donated media space to support the campaign as Greater Than AIDS partners. A number of state health departments and AIDS offices have also embraced Greater Than AIDS and along with AIDS service organizations and other community groups are leveraging the national campaign to develop expanded targeted efforts in their local areas.
"It's unprecedented to have such a broad cross-section of media, along with other private and public sector organizations, come together on an issue of such vital importance for Black Americans and the nation," said Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The "Deciding Moments" concept grew from research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that reveal the deep-seated stigma that still exists around HIV/AIDS despite strong personal connections to the issue. The overarching message reinforces the core Greater Than AIDS ideals of unity, hope and empowerment by focusing on the power of individuals coming together to achieve a larger goal. The individuals profiled in the campaign reinforce the range of actions promoted by Greater Than AIDS: knowledge, respect, communication, protection, testing and treatment and involvement.
Among those profiled include a young HIV-positive mother who speaks of her decision to seek treatment when she learned she was pregnant to ensure her baby would be born negative. A mother who talks about her unconditional love for her son who on the same day he told her was HIV positive also came out to her as gay. The son, who has been living with HIV now for more than a decade, shares how his life and well-being has been strengthened by his mother's support. An HIV-negative woman discusses her experience living with her husband's HIV diagnosis more than 20 years ago. A woman describes going to get tested for herself when her partner would not. A corresponding profile on the www.greaterthan.org/decidingmoments website provides more detail about each individual's story and message. Short video bios have been produced for each individual in the campaign on the website as well as on Facebook.com/greaterthanaids.
"When I was infected by HIV at age 19, I didn't think I was greater than anything," said Marvelyn Brown, an HIV activist and author profiled in the Deciding Moments campaign. "I think the Greater Than AIDS message is so important for young people because it's about empowering us to stand up for ourselves and take control of our bodies and our health. I hope my decision to be open with my story will help inspire others to take action in response to AIDS, and hopefully, to prevent my peers from becoming infected."
For radio, Greater Than AIDS joined with up and coming artists to produce original pieces in different musical genres -- from rap to hip hop to R&B -- to lyrically express the idea behind Deciding Moments. These works also reflect actual experiences of the participating artists.
The Deciding Moments concept and resulting executions were developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Black AIDS Institute working with GTM: Guerilla Tactics Marketing, a grassroots and marketing firm based in Atlanta, which also worked on the campaign's first year of creative.
Of the more than 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV today, half are Black Americans, far surpassing any other racial or ethnic group. HIV/AIDS is a deeply personal issue with 43 percent of all Americans today -- and nearly 60 percent of Black Americans -- now knowing someone who is living with or has died from the disease, for many a family member or close friend, according to a national survey on HIV/AIDS conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
HIV/AIDS is both preventable and treatable -- early diagnosis and care helps those with the disease live longer and healthier lives. Yet, one in five Americans living with HIV today does not know it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) identifies stigma as a major contributor to the spread of HIV, keeping people from seeking information, speaking openly, using protection, getting tested and treated and otherwise acting to protect themselves and those they love.