AIDS billboard in City of Industry has drivers in uproar

By Leanne Suter
03/25/2012
Source: ABC 7
City of Industry, CA

There’s no mistaking the message on a billboard along Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry which shows a condom with the question, “Why Not?” printed next to it.

It’s a controversial statement that has many drivers like Tina Mays very upset.

“That sign you cannot avoid, it’s in your face, literally,” she said.

Mays says it was her 6-year-old granddaughter who first pointed out the sign. She’s now fighting to have it removed.

“If you want to put an AIDS ad that’s fine, you know protect yourself, what have you, but when you put reality, I mean, that’s for me to teach my children and for me to learn by myself it’s not for somebody to shove down my throat as I’m driving down the boulevard,” said Mays.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation began its new condom campaign three weeks ago. They’ve posted a dozen billboards throughout L.A. County, all in the hopes of stopping the spread of HIV and STDs.

The foundation says it’s a vital public health message and wanted to make sure the billboards got people talking even if it meant complaints, which they have received.

“The benefit of getting people aware about HIV and STD testing and aware about condom use overrides, I believe, the possible offense that some people seem to be taking to these billboards,” said Ged Kenslea of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Some do agree with Kenslea.

“It’s just part of education,” said Marlo Palomera of Hacienda Heights. “Kids know more nowadays than they did back then, so I’m sure they’ve seen one, so it doesn’t bother me.”

But others like Mays say it goes too far.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Cruz Esparza of La Puente. “It’s a little obscene I think.”

Mays says she called the city to complain but she was told that it is a freedom of speech issue. Mays says her next step is to take her complaint to the sign company in hope of having the billboard removed.

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