US: New PrEP PSA Unveiled at National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Conference

UNIFIED – HIV Health & Beyond Targets Cisgender, Heterosexual Women in Ad, Receives Mixed Reviews

The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS – Detroit Chapter hosted a National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day conference on Friday at Michigan State University – Detroit Center. The conference, which attracted around 25 people, marked the premiere of UNIFIED – HIV Health & Beyond’s new public service announcement, “#PrEPProtects.”

The two-minute, 10-second spot – the first of three UNIFIED plans to produce – was geared toward heterosexual, cisgender women and featured a voiceover by poet Frenchie Davis. Images in the video feature a heterosexual couple while Davis is heard telling the story of a heterosexual woman who contracts HIV from her heterosexual male partner.

The statement, “When the condoms are left on the dresser or still in the store don’t forget to check under the bed for the demons on the floor,” is repeated multiple times throughout what viewers described as a “dark” and “haunting” video.

“We wanted to break the stigma that PrEP is only for MSM – men who have sex with men – and only for the gay community,” said Christopher Woolfolk, a linkage to care specialist with UNIFIED. “So we broadened it up and added a heterosexual couple where the woman was exposed to HIV. We wanted to break the stigma, because at one of our meetings we had a heterosexual female who said, ‘I feel like I’m not being represented in any of these images we’re seeing. I feel like when we talk about HIV I’m not included.’”

But the way the video depicted that inclusion and the repeated usage of the word “AIDS” instead of “HIV” made some in the room feel uncomfortable. “It’s a nice commercial however I am not one who would be willing to show this to clients or to even have people see it,” said Satrise Tillman, a linkage specialist for Link-Up Detroit. “One, it’s too long. Second, I don’t like the fact that she’s mentioning AIDS, AIDS, AIDS. Let’s start with HIV first and then get to the AIDS part. And the third thing I felt like she was saying is that it’s his fault all through the commercial.”

Chunnika Hodges, program coordinator for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS – Detroit Chapter and GEM-EIS specialist for UNIFIED, justified the usage of the words AIDS in the video. Read more via Pride Source