Boston Globe Examines KNOW HIV/AIDS Education Campaign in Boston
March 21, 2005
The Boston Globe on Sunday examined the "Knowing is Beautiful" advertising campaign in Boston that is part of the "KNOW HIV/AIDS" awareness campaign. The "provocative new tagline" is aimed at encouraging young people to receive regular HIV testing, according to the Globe (Kahn, Boston Globe, 3/20). Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation in January 2003 launched KNOW HIV/AIDS, which is aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness through PSAs, television and radio programming, and free print and online content (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/16). "Knowing you're HIV-negative is beautiful; you have a long life to live," 21-year-old John Maxwell of Boston said, adding that the ads reinforced his desire to get tested for HIV. He said, "Knowing you're HIV-positive is beautiful; you can be treated and live more years than if you didn't know. That's the beauty of the ad." However, Tonia Hines, an HIV-positive outreach worker at the Boston Living Center, a resource hub for people with HIV, said, "When you get your first diagnosis, you don't think it's beautiful. I haven't heard people say: 'It's beautiful. Girl, it's beautiful.' That, I know I haven't heard." In addition, some health professionals are worried that the "glossy depictions to break the barriers of blase" are "veering into dangerous territory" by "glamorizing the disease," the Globe reports. These opponents say that the ads might be "disguising" the many people still dying from AIDS-related causes, "dismissing" the HIV-positive patients who are "shredded by the side effects of their medications" and "loosening safe-sex strictures," according to the Globe. "We wouldn't put out ads we thought were harmful to anyone," Julia Davis, Kaiser Family Foundation's associate director of U.S. programs, Entertainment Media Partnerships, said, adding, "No one ad will work for everybody. In these ads, we have 10 seconds or 30 seconds. We can't have the entire debate." Hip-hop artist Common, who is the face and voice of the latest "Knowing is Beautiful" ads, said in a phone interview from New York, "We want it to be fly, to be fresh, to be attractive; people won't pay attention to it if it ain't attractive" (Boston Globe, 3/20).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.