ALAMEDA COUNTY: ‘Shock Ads’ Target Gay, African-American Men
Alameda County's sexual "shock ads," intended to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, have concerned one county supervisor but have largely escaped criticism in the month that they have been on display, the Washington Times reports. Posted in areas frequented by gay, African-American men, the ads depict two naked men entwined in each other's arms with an unused condom on the floor nearby and an empty liquor bottle beside them. The caption reads, "Been there. Done that. Get HIV tested. It could save your life." Funded by a $300,000 state grant, the ads are the county health department's response to the AIDS "state of emergency" it declared in 1998, when AIDS became the nation's top killer of African-Americans ages 25-44. The campaign's message "adorns small billboards, postcards, business-size plastic cards, condom packages and matchbooks," and the smaller items are handed out in nightclubs, adult video stores, bathhouses and bars. Scott Haggerty was the lone dissenter among the county supervisors who approved the campaign, asserting that he did not want children to view the campaign material. "I'm not convinced it won't get out in the general public," Haggerty said. Although other California counties are promoting similar shock ads, none created so far are as "sexual" as those used in Alameda County. One ad in San Mateo County, for example, features a woman with a condom in her hand saying, "If you don't have one, you don't get none. Use a condom every time" (Elias, Washington Times, 4/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.