AIDS activists are finding themselves divided over a New York City government-backed public service announcement highlighting the graphic effects HIV can have on the body.
The PSA warns gay and bisexual men that contracting HIV could lead to health problems like bone loss, dementia, and anal cancer, in a new campaign launched in December. The "Never Just HIV" campaign is an attempt to prevent people from feeling that HIV is not as harsh as a disease as it once was simply because treatments are more available and effective. The public service announcement, which briefly shows a person with anal cancer, will air on broadcast television.
Longtime activist Larry Kramer thinks "it's about time" for such a hard-hitting campaign. "This ad is honest and true and scary, all of which it should be. H.I.V. is scary, and all attempts to curtail it via lily-livered nicey-nicey ‘prevention’ tactics have failed,” he wrote to friends and colleagues after the ad was released, according to The New York Times.
However, Gay Men's Health Crisis executive director Marjorie Hill said scare tactics have been proven to not be as effective than other approaches and that "portraying gay and bisexual men as dispensing diseases is counterproductive." Likewise, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation president Jarrett Barrios said the PSA does not accurately represent what life with HIV or AIDS is like. Additionally, the National Association of People With AIDS, the HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York, and Housing Works are among some organizations that have voiced their displeasure with the PSA.