KNOW HIV/AIDS Campaign Considers Reworking Its Messages After Discovery of Rare HIV Strain
The "KNOW HIV/AIDS" awareness campaign is considering the impact on its messages of last week's announcement of the detection of a rare, drug-resistant HIV strain, which illustrates the disease "remains an elusive and dangerous enemy," the Wall Street Journal reports (Windham, Wall Street Journal, 2/16). New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officials last week announced they have detected in a local patient a rare strain of HIV that is highly resistant to most antiretroviral drugs and causes a rapid onset of AIDS. The city health department also issued an alert to physicians, hospitals and medical providers asking them to test all HIV-positive patients for evidence of the strain (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/14). 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 included media placements valued at more than $200 million in 2004 -- targets 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. In 2003, the initiative created 49 television, radio and outdoor ads. The 2004 campaign included 40 targeted ads -- including some of the 49 ads created for the 2003 campaign -- that ran across Viacom's broadcast networks CBS and UPN; cable networks MTV, BET, VH1, CMT: Country Music Television, TV Land, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Showtime, Spike TV and Comedy Central; 185 Infinity Broadcasting radio stations; and billboards, buses and bus shelter advertising. In addition, MTV, MTV International, Nickelodeon, BET, VH1, Showtime, Sundance Channel and Infinity Broadcasting aired special HIV/AIDS-related programming throughout the year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/26).
Tina Hoff, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of entertainment and media partnerships, said the foundation hopes to discuss potential changes with Viacom in an effort to convey the implications of the rare strain to young people. "News like this has the potential to fuel a lot of hysteria and fear. We want to make sure we're providing accurate messages," Hoff said. Carl Folta, senior vice president of corporate relations at Viacom, said the company is "eager" to work with its partners to provide information about last week's announcement, according to the Journal. "All of the recent revelations point to the fact that you have to continue to educate audiences about this disease," he said, adding, "We're going to sit down and gather our creative forces to help in the education." James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a former director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at CDC, said campaigns such as KNOW HIV/AIDS are an "effective approach" to providing education to young people and minorities, the Journal reports. "They don't necessarily believe it if it comes from the government, but they'll believe it if it comes from MTV," he said (Wall Street Journal, 2/16).
MTV, Kaiser To Continue 'Fight for Your Rights' Campaign
The Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV on Tuesday announced that they will continue their partnership to collaborate on a ninth year of the award-winning "Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself" campaign aimed at preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among young people, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation/MTV joint release (Joint release, 2/15). The campaign, which began in 1997, includes special programming, public service announcements, a comprehensive Web site, grassroots events and advocacy opportunities, a free guide, and an extensive resource and referral service that connects viewers to local testing and counseling (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/11/03). Nearly 100 million people have seen the campaign's programming since its inception, and more than one million people have called the campaign's toll-free hotline, 1-888-BE SAFE 1, according to the release. "Our goal with our pro-social campaigns, including 'Protect Yourself,' is always to empower young people by giving them the tools they need to make informed decisions. Through our partnership with Kaiser, we are thrilled to help give young people control of their sexual health," MTV President Van Toffler said. Matt James, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "To reach young people with the information they need to make wise decisions, we realized long ago that we needed to go where they go. Our research shows these messages are being heard" (KFF/MTV release, 2/15).