Baltimore Launches Media Campaign Aimed at Reducing Spread of HIV Among Teenagers, Young Adults
Baltimore officials on Wednesday launched the city's first high-profile media campaign aimed at reducing the spread of HIV among teenagers and young adults by preventing risky sexual behavior, the Baltimore Sun reports. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and city health officials on Wednesday discussed the campaign, which will promote abstinence and condom use to help curb the spread of HIV. Dixon said the city "need[s] to be straight, not sugarcoat, and be very upfront with youth."
The campaign, which was developed by the not-for-profit After School Institute and the advertising firm 21st Century Group, will carry the message, "Spread the word, not the disease." The message will begin appearing in print, radio and television advertisements, as well as on wristbands and bus shelters, this summer. Broadcast ads were scheduled to run on Wednesday on a local commercial radio station and the city government's public access television station. In addition, print ads were expected to run in university newspapers, the Sun reports. ASI also has launched a Web site carrying the message and has printed T-shirts and wristbands displaying the message, which will be distributed at summer pool parties. In addition, ASI plans to conduct presentations on the campaign at every city high school beginning in the next school year.
According to CDC, the Baltimore area in 2005 reported the second-highest rate of new AIDS cases nationwide with 40.4 new cases per 100,000 people. According to City Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, 3% of new HIV cases in the city occur among residents under age 20 and one-fifth of new cases occur among residents ages 20 to 29. Sharfstein said the campaign aims to target people while they are forming their sexual habits. The campaign was funded with $75,000 in city funds and $60,000 in federal funds from the Maryland AIDS Administration, the Sun reports (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 6/7).