NYC Uses Blunt, Scary Images for HIV Ad
But critics say it's too negative, ineffective
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2011 4:04 PM CST

(Newser) – New York City's health department loves its blunt ads, and a new one on HIV is drawing familiar criticism for being too graphic and negative, reports the New York Times. The spots on TV and YouTube warn gay men that even though HIV is now treatable, the disease still takes a devastating toll on the body, with increased odds of everything from osteoporosis to anal cancer. The tagline: "When you get HIV, it's never just HIV."

Critics say it perpetuates tired stereotypes. "Portraying gay and bisexual men as dispensing diseases is counterproductive,” says the chief executive of Gay Men's Health Crisis. “Studies have shown that scare tactics are not effective.” And from the opposition, author Larry Kramer: “This ad is honest and true and scary, all of which it should be. HIV is scary, and all attempts to curtail it via lily-livered nicey-nicey ‘prevention’ tactics have failed.” A city official says the intent is to counteract drug ads that make the disease seem like "a walk in the park."