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New Global Campaign Launched to Promote Condom Use; "Three Amigos" Animated PSAs Use Humor to Stop Spread of HIV

January 12, 2005

A new global campaign promoting condom use to stop the spread of HIV uses public service announcements featuring three animated condom characters who "deliver a serious message" in a "humorous" way, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The "Three Amigos" -- named Shaft, Stretch and Dick -- are featured in 20- to 60-second adventures with the message that condoms are an essential component of safer sex, according to the AP/Sun (Lederer, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12). In one spot, the characters are strapped into a spaceship, as a female voice is performing an increasingly breathless countdown that ends with a fizzle. "No condom, no blastoff," a voiceover says (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/28/04). The PSAs, which are available in 41 languages, target people ages 15 to 24 who live in countries and regions highly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including India, China, Russia, the Caribbean and Central Asia, according to the AP/Sun. The PSAs -- which currently are being shown in Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa -- have won 25 international awards. Firdaus Kharas, the Canadian producer of the PSAs, said that although some countries have been "touchy" about airing the spots, everyone should be able to find several of the PSAs acceptable, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12). "Animation creates a kind of sense of disbelief, (so) it is much easier to get them accepted on national television," Kharas said (Leopold, Reuters, 1/11). Kharas said that although some U.S. universities have requested copies of the spots, the United States "isn't a primary target" for the campaign, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12).

Tutu Support
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has endorsed the PSAs and sent a letter to broadcasters worldwide urging them to show the spots, according to USA Today (USA Today, 1/12). Tutu said that the ads are "a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behavior." He added that the PSAs have the "potential to capture the imagination of young people through humor, the portrayal of situations to which they can easily relate and the portrayal of characters who express what in a normal situation would be too embarrassing to speak of" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12).

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