AIDS Healthcare Foundation Asks Bristol-Myers Squibb To Stop Running Reyataz Ad It Says Minimizes Seriousness of AIDS
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Thursday asked pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to stop running advertisements for its antiretroviral drug Reyataz that the group says "minimize the seriousness" of HIV/AIDS, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ad for Reyataz features two men on a beach playing backgammon and says, "The Word on HIV: Fight HIV Your Way," according to the Journal. AHF President Michael Weinstein said the ad could "lead to a lack of concern about contracting HIV," according to the Journal. He added, "It says that 'I don't have to be that careful about getting HIV because I can go to the beach and pop pills'" (Wall Street Journal, 2/17). "In 2001, drug companies were widely criticized for misleading AIDS drug ads that featured attractive, buff HIV-positive men climbing mountains and running marathons, something that many AIDS advocates believed minimized the seriousness of contracting an HIV infection and then living with its consequences," Weinstein said, adding, "At the time, the industry relented and adjusted its advertising. However, the industry now appears to be falling back to its old misleading patterns" (AHF release, 2/17). A BMS spokesperson said the company "has been making HIV medicines for over a decade," adding, "We take how people are portrayed in our advertising very seriously and strive to depict HIV-positive people in a responsible way. To our knowledge, we have not been contacted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation about this advertisement, but we take their opinion and feedback very seriously and will look forward to a dialogue with them" (Wall Street Journal, 2/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.