Viacom Including HIV Awareness Storylines in Programming Through ‘KNOW HIV/AIDS’ Partnership With Kaiser Family Foundation
In the coming months, the media group Viacom will include HIV awareness storylines in some shows as a part of its "KNOW HIV/AIDS" partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Rhoshalle Littlehohn, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/21). The campaign -- which is aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness through PSAs, television and radio programming, and free print and online content -- targets both the general population and groups hardest hit by HIV/AIDS, such as people under age 25, women, minorities 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, 1/26). UPN on Tuesday will air an episode of the sitcom "Eve," in which Shelly -- played by rapper-actress Eve -- wants go to "the next level" with her boyfriend, but he insists that she get an HIV test, the AP/Newsday reports. Showtime's drama "Queer as Folk" also includes HIV/AIDS-related storylines. "It is a serious subject, but it's OK to laugh in these situations," Meg DeLoach, "Eve" creator and executive producer, said, adding, "I've taken several HIV tests, and even when there's no reason to be worried, I worry. Oftentimes, you're just terrified. The flip side to the terror is that nervous laughter of what the results are going to be. But you can't laugh until you know what's going on."
Viacom has directed $600 million of media value to the "KNOW HIV/AIDS" campaign, and campaign messages have been translated into seven languages and have reached "millions" in Africa, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, according to the AP/Newsday. The "Knowing is Beautiful" HIV testing awareness campaign -- part of Viacom's $220 million ad placement commitment for 2005 -- will feature six television, radio and outdoor billboard PSAs. "It might seem like odd bedfellows -- Kaiser and Viacom," Tina Hoff, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of entertainment and media partnerships, said, adding, "But we're a company that tries to reach out to people with information. Viacom can reach them. That's why the relationship works so well." Sarah Whitehead, AIDS Action communications director, said, "Anytime a media giant like Viacom takes on the challenge of educating people about HIV, it is a very good thing for anyone concerned about HIV." She added that in recent years the pandemic has "lost much of its media appeal" because of the development of more effective drugs, the AP/Newsday reports (AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/21).