September #166 : Fear & Loathing in Illinois - by Trenton Straube

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Table of Contents

Thou Shalt Fear AIDS

Lest We Forget

When to START Drugs?

You Said It

Burn that Belly

In Sync with ZInc

No Butts About It


HIV a Best Seller?

Considering Cannabis

The Importance of Remembering Ryan White

Insult to Injury

World Cup Wrap Up

Back-to-School Books

Angels Redux

Crying Uncle

Fear & Loathing in Illinois

Editor's Letter


Keeping Track

GMHC Treatment Issues- September 2010

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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September 2010

Fear & Loathing in Illinois

by Trenton Straube

Do scare tactics in ad campaigns prevent HIV?

In April, a mysterious campaign appeared in Chicago’s gay scene. The bar ads, showing one of four sexy men, teased: “He’s the one.” Many Boystown residents figured a new dating site was launching. In May, they found out otherwise.

“He’s the one…that could infect you,” revealed the full tag line, which also ran in print ads with a montage of four men’s faces spliced together comprising a head shot. Criticism came swiftly.

“[The ad] absolutely demonizes and stigmatizes people living with HIV,” says Jim Pickett, the advocacy director of AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “It posits a gay man living with HIV as a monster who is out to infect you.” He adds, “I loathe fear-based advertising. It might’ve created a lot of discussion, but I don’t believe it works.”

Not everyone agrees—including gay and HIV-positive men in the campaign’s focus groups. Ad agency Hispanicity created the spots. Company president and CEO Evan Gordon tells POZ the men they interviewed didn’t find the spots stigmatizing. In fact, he says, “We heard that there has to be a fear factor because the younger people have no recollection of people dying every day [of AIDS].”

After fielding complaints and praise for the ads, the Illinois Department of Public Health, which funded the statewide campaign, pulled the spots. Turns out he’s not the one after all.

Search “He’s the One” at to read more on the campaign controversy and to share your comments on whether scare tactics prevent HIV.

Search: scare tactics, campaign, Chicago, Illinois, AIDS Foundation Chicago, advertising, Illinois Department of Public Health

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