New media-led effort responds to AIDS crisis in Black America
MENLO PARK, CA, June 25 /PRNewswire/ — Today, leading U.S. media companies announced a new coordinated national campaign to mobilize Black Americans in response to AIDS and promote specific calls-to-action to prevent and reduce the further spread of HIV. Greater Than AIDS – a multi-faceted campaign presented under a common brand that includes targeted public service ads (PSAs) as well as integrated messages in news, entertainment and community content – seeks to strengthen a sense of community among Black Americans in response to HIV/AIDS.
From the outset, AIDS has disproportionately affected Black Americans, who today account for nearly half of new HIV infections in this country, while representing just 12 percent of the population. In some U.S. cities — notably those with large Black populations — prevalence rates are considerably higher than the national average. Some 500,000 Black Americans are estimated to be living with HIV today — and those infected face greater barriers to care and treatment and are more likely to die of AIDS than other racial or ethnic groups.
According to a recent national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black Americans are more personally worried about HIV/AIDS – with more than one in three having a family member or close friend who is living with or has died from HIV/AIDS – as compared to other races or ethnicities. Even so, tracking surveys reveal a decreasing sense of urgency, including among Black Americans, about the epidemic. “The sustained collaboration by media to deliver a concise and consistent message creates a powerful opportunity to draw attention about the disproportionate impact of HIV on Black America and promote both individual and community-level action,” said Drew E. Altman, Ph.D., resident and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation, which is coordinating media commitments and managing campaign production. According to the same survey, 44 percent of Black Americans name media as their primary source of information about HIV/AIDS, far more than any other single source, including family or health care providers.
Inspired by a line in a speech by President Obama on World AIDS Day in 2006, the central idea behind the Greater Than AIDS message, which is presented as an “internal dialogue” within the Black community, seeks to inspire hope and promote the possibility of change in the AIDS epidemic facing Black America through the united actions of individuals, families and communities. Greater Than AIDS stresses six specific actions in response to the epidemic: being informed; using condoms; getting tested–and treated, as needed; speaking openly; acting with respect; and getting involved.
The campaign’s logo is the mathematical symbol for “greater than.” This simple image visually and readily conveys unity and empowerment. The symbol also has the effect of suggesting forward action – like an arrow. The symbol is mimicked in the popular hand sign for “peace” rotated 90 degrees.
“The central idea behind the campaign is to remind us as Black Americans that we are greater than any challenge we have ever faced, and that we are Greater Than AIDS as well,” said Phill Wilson, Founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, which is advising on the initiative. “It is about a shared responsibility in the face of AIDS – and hope for the possibility of an HIV-free future.”
The Greater Than AIDS campaign is being developed and distributed by the Black AIDS Media Partnership (BAMP), a coalition of leading media companies. It is being produced in collaboration with Act Against AIDS, a major five-year communications effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refocus attention on HIV and AIDS domestically. “CDC is pleased to collaborate with the Kaiser Family Foundation on the Black AIDS Media Partnership (BAMP), which complements CDC’s recently initiated Act Against AIDS campaign and exemplifies the type of private sector commitment needed to combat HIV and AIDS,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “Media partnerships like these are critical to bringing a renewed sense of urgency and resolve to ending the HIV epidemic in the hardest hit communities across the nation.”
The campaign brand and initial creative elements begin rolling out this week leading up to National HIV Testing Day (June 27th). The first wave of campaign content will include radio, outdoor, print and online elements, with television content planned for release in the fall. Test 1 Million, a corresponding campaign produced by the Black AIDS Institute to test one million Black Americans a year also is being distributed as part of with the Greater Than AIDS campaign. A comprehensive website – www.greaterthan.org – serves as the primary referral for all campaign messages.
A growing roster of media are supporting this first wave, including: American Urban Radio Networks, AOL Black Voices, CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Communications, ESSENCE Communications, the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters, the National Newspaper Publishers’ Association, and theLoop21.com, among others. The campaign is extended beyond the PSAs through integrated content and community outreach. Among the company-level commitments announced today:
— American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), as part of its commitment through the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, is producing a
series of public service messages in support of the Greater Than AIDS campaign featuring network talent and celebrities. AURN will also
distribute PSAs to its more than 300 radio stations nationwide, reaching an estimated audience of more than 20 million.
— Clear Channel Communications has made the Greater Than AIDS campaign a corporate priority and is working with BAMP to engage its radio
personalities, creative and production personnel in driving HIV/AIDS awareness and information to its listeners and communities. Clear
Channel is distributing Greater Than AIDS PSAs across its network of more than 800 radio stations serving over 100 million U.S. listeners each week. In addition, Steve Harvey, whose nationally-syndicated radio show, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” is heard each day from 6-10 a.m. EST in over 60 U.S. markets on Urban and Urban AC stations, will promote the campaign with PSAs and related support. The program is nationally syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel. Clear Channel is also working with the campaign to place PSAs across its more than 200,000 outdoor advertising displays in the U.S., with a focus on markets with the highest rates of HIV infection among African Americans.
— ESSENCE Communications is leveraging the influence and reach of its annual Essence Music Festival (July 3-5, New Orleans) to bring attention to HIV/AIDS. In addition, ESSENCE covers HIV/AIDS issues every month in its award-winning magazine. ESSENCE will be contributing advertising space and online media for Greater Than AIDS PSAs. ESSENCE magazine reaches more than 8.1 million women each month and Essence.com reaches 1 million each month.
— National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), representing more than 200 Black community newspapers across the U.S., will introduce
the Greater Than AIDS campaign at its National Convention (June 26-27, Minneapolis) and provide free onsite HIV testing as part of BAMP’s
Test 1 Million initiative. As part of a commitment through Act Against AIDS, the NNPA will also produce a series of editorials about the impact of HIV/AIDS on Black America for its News Service. NNPA will also work with BAMP to provide complementary web-videos featuring interviews with people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS for posting to both BlackPressUSA.com and member newspaper websites as well as work with member newspapers to place Greater Than AIDS print and online PSAs.