Blair Underwood’s “Man Up” Ad Campaign Promotes AHF’s Free HIV Testing Services

Now Appearing on LA Billboards and Online, Campaign Directs Public to www.FreeHIVTest.net for Info on Free, Fast and Convenient HIV Testing Locations; Encourages Personal Responsibility and Need for Individuals to Know HIV Status to Protect Partners. Campaign is Part of AHF's Year-Long Initiative to Test 40,000 People for HIV in Los Angeles

By Aids Healthcare Foundation
04/15/2009
Los Angeles, California

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which operates the largest community-based alternative HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing program in California, has launched the second phase of its Los Angeles-area HIV prevention and testing initiative with its newest innovative and eye-catching campaign featuring actor Blair Underwood. Underwood’s image, from a photograph by Blake Little, can be seen on billboards throughout Los Angeles—as well as on one of AHF’s mobile testing vans—with the words “Man Up” in bold printing next to his image.  The ads direct the public to visit www.freeHIVtest.net to find out where to get tested quickly, conveniently and at no cost.

The campaign continues AHF’s “Stay Negative” HIV prevention and testing campaign which began earlier this year with advertising materials that featured an eye-catching image of a semi-nude male with the words “Stay Negative” tattooed on his back. Like the previous “tattooed man” ad, the Underwood “Man Up” campaign includes billboards, an online presence which, in addition to its own website, includes banner advertisements on KIIS, HOT, MYFM radio station websites.  The attention-grabbing image of Underwood and his direct message to viewers is already having an impact.  The billboards and an increase in traffic to the www.freeHIVtest.net website have coincided with a dramatic increase in capacity and testing through the AHF Public Health Division.

“Personal responsibility is a key message of AHF’s Blair Underwood ‘Man Up’ campaign.  With Underwood’s broad appeal, we hope to inspire people  to see HIV testing as a necessary and routine part of their sexual health a way to protect themselves their partners,” said Whitney Engeran III, Director of Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “There are many uncertainties when addressing people’s sexual behaviors but the one thing we know for sure is that HIV testing, detection and linkage to medical care works. The best way to break the chain of infection—in Los Angeles or anywhere—is for people to get tested and know their status.”

A key component of the initiative is its website which contains crucial information about HIV transmission, prevention and treatment, including facts about condom use. The site also contains an extensive “myth vs. reality” section that frankly addresses false beliefs surrounding HIV that may prevent some individuals from accessing testing.  Most importantly, the site lists AHF’s free, community-based HIV testing locations including its Men’s Wellness Center in Hollywood, select Out of the Closet Thrift Store locations and through its innovative mobile testing van that appears at public locations throughout the city including sites such as Target, Big Lots, local area churches, Food4Less, and Ross in areas of town that include Long Beach, Atwater, East Los Angeles, Venice, Inglewood and West Hollywood.

“The ‘Man Up’ campaign is a continuation of AHF’s year-long effort to test 40,000 people in Los Angeles for HIV by working with community-based partnerships such as the City of Los Angeles, Bienestar Human Services, the Wall De Las Memorias, Homeless Healthcare, Reach L.A., Charles Drew University and other agencies,” said Joseph Terrill, AHF’s Domestic Testing Program Manager.  “The goal of AHF’s ‘Man Up’ campaign is in line with the initiative’s overall goal: to increase awareness of the need to incorporate HIV testing as a part of everyone’s routine efforts to maintain personal health and well-being, as well as to protect their partners.  We hope that the billboards drive people to the www.freeHIVtest.net website where they will be able to find an HIV testing location that’s convenient and accessible and completely free.”

As an AHF spokesperson, Underwood recently appeared in a television public service announcement that aired throughout Los Angeles, urging everyone—whether HIV positive or not—to get their prescriptions filled at the non-profit AHF Pharmacy. The AHF Pharmacy, in addition to offering expertise in HIV/AIDS medications, is also a full-service pharmacy open to everyone, giving the community a unique opportunity to give back.  Ninety-six cents of every dollar earned is re-invested into providing care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the world.  More information can be found at www.ahfpharmacy.org.  Underwood was also a special guest at this year’s Florida AIDS Walk, presented by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF Pharmacy, Out of the Closet Thrift Stores, in Ft. Lauderdale which raised $351,500 for HIV/AIDS services in Florida.  More information can be found at www.floridaaidswalk.org.

AHF’s Public Health Division offers mobile HIV testing and counseling services, as well as non-traditional-venue HIV testing: at AHF’s Out of the Closet® Thrift Stores, at the Men’s Wellness Center, in the Bay Area through outreach programs targeting high-risk populations and in Los Angeles County Jails.  Tests are performed by trained and certified testers.

About AHF: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation’s largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia.

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