Boston Globe Examines KNOW HIV/AIDS Education Campaign in Boston
The Boston Globe on Sunday examined the "Knowing is Beautiful" advertising campaign in Boston that is part of the "KNOW HIV/AIDS" awareness campaign. The "provocative new tagline" is aimed at encouraging young people to receive regular HIV testing, according to the Globe (Kahn, Boston Globe, 3/20). Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation in January 2003 launched KNOW HIV/AIDS, which is aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness through PSAs, television and radio programming, and free print and online content (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/16). "Knowing you're HIV-negative is beautiful; you have a long life to live," 21-year-old John Maxwell of Boston said, adding that the ads reinforced his desire to get tested for HIV. He said, "Knowing you're HIV-positive is beautiful; you can be treated and live more years than if you didn't know. That's the beauty of the ad." However, Tonia Hines, an HIV-positive outreach worker at the Boston Living Center, a resource hub for people with HIV, said, "When you get your first diagnosis, you don't think it's beautiful. I haven't heard people say: 'It's beautiful. Girl, it's beautiful.' That, I know I haven't heard." In addition, some health professionals are worried that the "glossy depictions to break the barriers of blase" are "veering into dangerous territory" by "glamorizing the disease," the Globe reports. These opponents say that the ads might be "disguising" the many people still dying from AIDS-related causes, "dismissing" the HIV-positive patients who are "shredded by the side effects of their medications" and "loosening safe-sex strictures," according to the Globe. "We wouldn't put out ads we thought were harmful to anyone," Julia Davis, Kaiser Family Foundation's associate director of U.S. programs, Entertainment Media Partnerships, said, adding, "No one ad will work for everybody. In these ads, we have 10 seconds or 30 seconds. We can't have the entire debate." Hip-hop artist Common, who is the face and voice of the latest "Knowing is Beautiful" ads, said in a phone interview from New York, "We want it to be fly, to be fresh, to be attractive; people won't pay attention to it if it ain't attractive" (Boston Globe, 3/20).
CBS Series To Include HIV Storyline
Tuesday's episode of CBS' "Judging Amy" will feature a storyline in which a 15-year-old girl tests HIV-positive, according to a CBS release. The idea for the storyline came after the show's executive producers attended a panel discussion hosted by KNOW HIV/AIDS, where they met Marteniz Brown, a 24-year-old HIV-positive man who had been diagnosed at age 18 and currently works to provide support and care for HIV-positive youth at the Division of Adolescent Medicine Project at the Children's Hospital of Michigan. The HIV-positive character inspired by Brown will be shown "living life to the fullest," according to the release (CBS release, 3/17). The KNOW HIV/AIDS 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. The 2004 campaign included 40 targeted ads 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, 2/16).