Gay Men's Health Crisis and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have teamed in an attempt to get a new anti-HIV ad from the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene pulled from the air. The ad is part of a campaign from the Health Department urging people to "Stay HIV Free. Always Use a Condom," and graphically warns of the risks of unprotected sex. But GMHC says the ad "could further stigmatize HIV/AIDS, as well as gay and bisexual men."
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “HIV continues to take a major toll on men who have sex with men - regardless of whether they identify as gay - and the virus is spreading more each year in those under 30. This spot should serve as a wake-up call." They report that in a survey of 685 men who have had sex with men at least twice in the past six month, 40% reported having unprotected anal sex. The figure was 56% for those who were HIV-positive.
However, Francisco Roque of GMHC told the Wall Street Journal that if the Health Department went about proving their point pretty tastelessly. "It really paints this picture of gay men as these sort of disease-ridden vessels, and so the message is really sort of, ‘Stay away from gay men,'" he said. GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios also said, "While it's extremely important that we continue to educate New Yorkers about HIV/AIDS prevention, the sensationalized nature of the commercial...misses the mark in fairly and accurately representing what it's like to live with HIV/AIDS." But the Health Department said that it worked for anti-smoking campaigns!