Twenty years ago AIDS was literally decimating the planet.
In 2003, AIDS was the fifth leading cause of death in the United States among people aged 25 to 44, behind unintentional injuries, cancer, heart disease and suicide. By the end of 2005, approximately 550,000 deaths attributable to AIDS had been reported.
In Africa, the numbers were far worse. In 2009 alone, nearly 1.3 million people died from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa while another 1.8 million became infected with HIV. Since the epidemic began, an astounding 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.
A lBack in the U.S., the numbers
Health officials in Florida are seeing a resurgence in HIV cases, especially among adolescents and young adults. After three decades of medical advances against the potentially-deadly virus, it’s on the rise again. The Sunshine State now ranks number one with new cases.
significant health disparities affecting a key demographic of the film’s target audience: African Americans. According to the CDC, African Americans account for 44% of all people with HIV/AIDS in the US, yet only account for 12% of the population. N.W.A. rapper Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright) died of AIDS in 1995.
LOS ANGELES (August 14, 2015) Timed to coincide with today’s release of the widely anticipated new film, ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is launching ‘StraightOuttaCondoms,’ a new safer sex media campaign that includes billboard and bus bench ads in Los Angeles as well as a related public service announcement promoting condom use that will play with the film in over 80 theaters in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
In a sad, but cautionary footnote that many of today’s filmgoers may be too young to even be aware of, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ / N.W.A. rapper Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright) died from AIDS-related complications on March 26, 1995—just one year before the arrival and widespread deployment of lifesaving antiretroviral treatments (ART) to combat and treat HIV/AIDS, which were first introduced to the public during the International AIDS Society’s International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, Canada in July 1996.
Shortly before he died, Eazy-E released a statement to his fans via a Hollywood news conference shepherded by Ron Sweeney, his friend and attorney (Eazy-E himself was hospitalized in critical care in the ICU of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center). In his final remarks to fans, Eazy-E said:
“A few times, I would use a jimmy-hat, but most of the times, I did it raw … And after all these years, I knew I should’ve taken a blood test.”
“I just feel that I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late.” Just remember: “It’s YOUR real time and YOUR real life”. ”
While the ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ campaign plays off the film (and 1988 album) title, it underscores—and offers some solutions to—significant health disparities affecting a key demographic of the film’s target audience: African Americans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans account for 44% of all people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, yet only account for 12% of the population. Latinos account for 21% of all new HIV infections nationwide, yet only represent 16% of the U.S. population. Atlanta currently ranks #3 in the nation for cities with the highest rates of new syphilis and HIV infections and the state of Georgia ranks #5 in the United States for new HIV infections. The CDC also noted (citations via Kaiser Family Foundation’s ‘Black Americans and HIV/AIDS’ fact sheet), “While the District of Columbia had fewer Blacks living with an HIV diagnosis in 2010 (10,995), it had the highest rate of Blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2010 (4,260.3 per 100,000); a rate more than 3 times the national rate for Blacks (1,242.4).”
And in a reflection of both Eazy-E’s celebrity coupled with the stigma of an HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 1995 (which at that time was a near certain death sentence for most infected), Paula Correia, spokeswoman for Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being cared for, said: “ON HIS DEATHBED, he (Eazy-E) received 100 telephone calls per hour. More operators had to be hired to handle the load. “We’ve never had this number of calls, even when Lucille Ball was here, Kirk Douglas or George Burns,” … “Never anything like this, ever.”
AHF’s ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ Ad Campaign
AHF’s ‘StraightOuttaCondoms’ campaign includes billboard and bus bench placements in Los Angeles, including two key billboard locations: Crenshaw and Rodeo in South Central L.A. and Sunset and Cahuenga in the heart of Hollywood’s nightlife district. In addition, 50 bus bench ads have been placed in South and East L.A. as well as in West Hollywood. The boards and bench ads will run for one month.
As part of the campaign, AHF is also releasing a public service announcement titled ‘Real Talk.’ The PSA, which promotes condom use, features a frank discussion between a father and son as the son heads out for a night on the town. The PSA will run in over 80 movie theaters that are screening the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ film in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, DC over the next three weeks.