The controversial ad by the New York City Health Department that debuted online in early December warning at risk gay and bisexual men of the danger of HIV/AIDS with it's graphic depictions of anal cancer and osteoporosis continues to stir emotions and divide activists.
NY Times reports:
The advertisement opens like a French film noir, showing portraits of melancholy-looking men standing against a shadowy black-and-white backdrop of menacing New York City streets. “When you get H.I.V.,” the narrator intones, “it’s never just H.I.V.”
To music that telegraphs calamity, the advertisement warns of osteoporosis, “a disease that dissolves your bones,” flashes a gory picture of anal cancer and delivers a punch line about the importance of using condoms.
Some gay organizations are not happy.
“We know from our longstanding H.I.V. prevention work that portraying gay and bisexual men as dispensing diseases is counterproductive,” said Marjorie Hill, chief executive of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “Studies have shown that scare tactics are not effective.”
Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, known as Glaad, said the advertisement “misses the mark in fairly and accurately representing what it’s like to live with H.I.V./AIDS.”
But city health officials say the advertisement was tested on focus groups of the target audience — primarily Latino and black men between ages 18 and 30 — and also reflected the city’s experience of what worked in its past antismoking campaigns, which included stomach-turning images of amputated fingers, tracheotomies and what was depicted as a dead smoker’s aorta.
“One of the points they kept making is you need to hit hard and do something to counteract the pharmaceutical ads that say having H.I.V. is a walk in the park,” Dr. Monica Sweeney, assistant commissioner of the city’s bureau of H.I.V. prevention and control, said recently.
Dr. Sweeney said the city stood by the advertisement and was pleased that it was getting attention, even if through controversy.
I have not watched the ad and WILL NOT watch it. While I applaud the NYC Health Department for doing it's job in trying to curb new HIV infections I'm of the mindset that scare tactics do not work. I experienced a similar campaign during my time in Los Angeles that caused a similar controversy.
In 2011 I'm sure we all know someone who is infected with HIV/AIDS and the men depicted in this ad is not their reality. Do we have to revert back to the horrific images of the early epidemic to know that HIV/AIDS is a serious disease? Anyone who doesn't know literally has to be deaf, dumb, and blind.
The ad is posted below if you care to watch (NSFW):