Education Key to World AIDS Day PSAs

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In response to a high HIV-infection rate among American youth, Cable Positive will break its first integrated public-service-ad campaign on World Aids Day.

Television and print ads depicting young people in carefree moments — with the tagline "Is Today the Day You Get HIV?" — bow on Dec. 1. Ads will herald the campaign's Web site (www.istodaytheday.org) and a toll-free number, 800-909-2DAY.

The Web site serves as a resource for information on safer sex, containing real stories of young people and their experiences with HIV and AIDS. Consumer calls will be directed to a live operator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for answers to questions about HIV/AIDS.

Cable Positive, which began distributing the tapes last week, expects 300 operators and programmers to again participate in the year-long program.

Efforts to begin getting ads into print titles are also underway, with placements expected early next year, according to Thomas Dima, vice president of communications, marketing and special projects.

The 10-year-old organization is focusing on communicating prevention and education messages. CEO Steve Villano said Cable Positive wants to spread the word not only on cable, but in the consumer press as well.

The need is clear in findings from the CDC, which indicate at least half of all new HIV infections are contracted by those under the age of 25, with most occurring through sex.

Teen girls account for 54% of all new AIDS cases among those ages 13 to 19.

People of color are also at great risk: Young African-Americans represent 64% of new AIDS cases among 13- to 19-year-olds, and Latinos represent 20% in this age group.

The two spots, developed pro bono by Romoff, Newman, Cesark, Daraio, center on kids in a photo kiosk and others in a taxicab, before the question "Is Today the Day You Get HIV?" pops up.

"Most kids of that age haven't lost a family member or friend to AIDS. It doesn't hit home in that way that they are vulnerable," said Villano. "They need to know that everybody is at risk."

Programming efforts geared toward World Aids Day include ones by VH1, Discovery Health Channel, E! Entertainment Television, Style, Home Box Office, Showtime and Noggin/The N.

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