The Center has always practiced an outspoken brand of outreach and awareness, from its ongoing sponsorship of the California AIDS Rides and successor AIDS Life/Cycle events to numerous ongoing counseling, health-awareness and aid programs.
This campaign shoots down the long-held belief that AIDS awareness should be directed at everyone, in part to avoid any stigma it brings to the gay community, and it's pissing some people off ...
“In Los Angeles County, gay and bisexual men make up less than 7% of the population but account for more than 75% of the people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Lorri L. Jean, Chief Executive Officer at the Center. “The men in our community continue to get infected at an alarming rate, continue to get sick, and continue to die. Most alarmingly, a new generation of young gay men has grown up accepting the epidemic as a community norm. That must change.”
HIV is a Gay disease? Are you kidding? For those of us living with the shame and fear of being HIV positive, I’m angry. For those who’ve lived long enough to see the world begin to accept HIV as more then a gay disease, I’m offended. For those who expect more from our gay organizations, I’m disappointed. Most people will only read your flashy tag line and that’s what they’ll promote. This world is filled with misinformation, due to our short attention spans. Most people get there information from bits and pieces propagated by the evening news or a flashy headline. I expected more from your center. While the details of your ad are most likely accurate, you’ve done an injustice to your community. You’ve flown off course and I’m saddened by your decision to promote this hateful headline.
RE: Why this is a bad idea
I partially agree with this response. I do not think it will achieve much notoriety amongst the general public in LA. Within the LA Gay Community (at the very least, the HIV Prevention Community) it will resonate as being controversial. Are shock tactics a means to an end? We shall see. As for me, I prefer truth in advertising. AIDS is not a gay disease. It is a disease that affects primarily gay men in this country. Not a "sexy" statement, but that's me...
So far, the forum topic "My reaction to the Own It. End It. Campaign" has 873 views and 19 posts on just two threads.
I'm of two minds: The message is a shock to the school of thought that had worked long and hard to erase the stigma coming from HIV's origins, which linked Patient Zero and a string of gay partners with the spread of the pandemic - and thus branded HIV as "the gay plague" in everybody's minds.
HIV/AIDS activists and health-care officials reasoned - rightly - that continuing that notion would leave straights, children, drug addicts and everyone else who didn't identify themselves as gay to do what they pleased, thus increasing the risk of spreading the disease.
The consensus was that AIDS affects everyone - which it truly does - and thus, we should all be spreading that message.
On the other hand, as someone who's lost just two good friends to HIV/AIDS, and have another friend who's been living with it for more than a decade, I have to applaud the LAGLC campgaign: If nothing else, it has people talking - and if that translates into gays, straights and everyone in between who sees the campaign practicing safe sex, it's a good thing.
Time will tell whether the in-your-face approach to shaking everyone out of complacency translates to a resurgence of bigotry and stigmatism - and whether the number of lives of young L.A. men saved outweighs that.
Posted by: Mack_Reed on Monday, October 02, 2006 - 09:27 AM