Hip-Hop Artist Common To Encourage HIV Testing in KNOW HIV/AIDS Campaign Ads
Hip-hop artist Common encourages young people to undergo HIV testing in new public service announcements that are the part of the "Knowing is Beautiful" series of the Viacom and Kaiser Family Foundation HIV/AIDS education initiative KNOW HIV/AIDS, AllHipHop.com reports (Hope, AllHipHop.com, 11/15). Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation in January 2003 launched KNOW HIV/AIDS, which is a campaign aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness through PSAs, television and radio programming and free print and online content. The campaign -- which includes media placements valued at more than $200 million in 2004 -- is targeted at both the general population and groups hardest hit by HIV/AIDS, such as people under age 25, minorities, women and men who have sex with men (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/18). The campaign in June launched the first part of a new series of print, radio and television PSAs aimed at breaking down the stigma associated with HIV testing and encouraging HIV testing among high-risk populations. The PSAs present HIV testing as an essential part of a healthy, loving relationship and include the tagline "Knowing is Beautiful," the KNOW HIV/AIDS Web site address -- knowhivaids.org -- and the campaign's toll-free phone number, 1-866-344-KNOW (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/10). In addition to the second round of PSAs, HIV/AIDS-themed television shows and specials will air in the weeks leading up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, according to Multichannel News (Multichannel News, 11/15).
In the ads, Common's original spoken word poetry shows "the empowerment of being tested" for HIV, according to AllHipHop.com. He said, "It was really important for me to be involved with a campaign that is raising awareness of HIV/AIDS," adding, "It's important for everyone to be aware that this disease doesn't just affect a single race or sexual orientation" (AllHipHop.com, 11/15). Drew Altman, president and CEO of Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "The unique combination of public service messages, HIV storylines in popular TV shows and special in-depth programming makes KNOW HIV/AIDS a powerful force in informing people about HIV testing and other ways they can protect themselves." Sumner Redstone, chair and CEO of Viacom, said, "Since the beginning of the campaign, KNOW HIV/AIDS has done a tremendous job of educating and influencing at-risk groups," adding, "Today, this newest evolution of the campaign draws on an icon of hip-hop culture to powerfully communicate the initiative's lifesaving messages and ensure that they resonate with communities that are most adversely affected" (Viacom/Kaiser Family Foundation release, 11/15).
Approximately 40 entertainment and broadcasting company officials on Nov. 23 are expected to meet under the guidance of the Global Media AIDS Initiative to discuss programming that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention messages, the Financial Times reports. Broadcasters are expected to collaborate on programming, integrating health care themes into shows and cross-promoting social campaigns, according to the Times. Carl Folta, senior vice president of corporate relations at Viacom -- which is co-hosting the meeting -- said that research shows that HIV/AIDS prevention messages are more effective when presented in television shows or through broadcast advertising, the Times reports (Burt, Financial Times, 11/15).