Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Los Angeles Health Center HIV Awareness Campaign: 'F*** Without Fear'

    The Los Angeles LGBT Center kicked off its provocative "F*ck Without Fear" campaign in January, ostensibly to "raise awareness for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a safe and effective tool to prevent HIV infection." "PrEP" is a medication regimen that, according to the LGBT Center, can "reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 99 percent," if used correctly.
    The campaign plans to use community events, targeted ads, a “Paint the Town Blue” partnership with West Hollywood and Hollywood bar, a "Banjee Ball" sponsorship (a "vogue dance and runway event with live music performances"), and even an Andrew Christian-designed “Fearless F*cker” t-shirt on sale at the designer's flagship store in West Hollywood with sales benefiting the PrEP center.

Photo source: newnownext.com
    In 2015, $350,000 was awarded to the LA LGBT Center by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for a "high impact HIV prevention project." When asked if CDC funds were being used for the current campaign, a CDC spokesperson said after a delay of a few days that "it takes a little time to untangle the various federal funding streams," but finally replied that the "CDC has confirmed with the LA LGBT Center that non-CDC funding was used for the PrEP awareness campaign."
    When asked how the $350,000 grant was used, the CDC said that the funds went towards "HIV testing –  including recruitment, outreach, linkage to care, navigation services and essential support services, ARTAS – which is an Antiretroviral Linkage to Care management intervention, Every Dose Every Day – a medicine adherence intervention for HIV positive persons, and Mpowerment – a community level behavior intervention for high-risk HIV-negative persons."
    After initially responding to an email, a LA LGBT Center spokesperson did not reply to follow up inquiries about the source of the current campaign funding or how the $350,000 grant awarded from 2015 was used.
    In the past three years alone, the LA LGBT Center has received over $13 million in federal grants and contracts, much of the money through HHS, but also from Housing and Urban Development and the Justice Department, among others. The Center has already received more than half a million dollars in fiscal year 2017 from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) related to a 2013 Obamacare-related award. According to its annual report, the LA LGBT Center is largely funded through private and corporate donations (including Wells Fargo and Toyota), but also a variety of federal and state grants.
   Other HHS funds in the past have been awarded to the LA LGBT Center for:
  • Child Welfare Research Training or Demonstration
  • Outpatient Early Intervention Services with Respect to HIV Disease
  • Transitional Living for Homeless Youth
   The Center calls its message "sex-positive" with "raw, real language to get people’s attention and spur conversation. 
“We’ve got the tools to not only end the fear of HIV, but to end it as an epidemic. Those at risk have to know about the tools, though, and they need honest information about them,” said Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings. “Our campaign provides the truth about PrEP, the information and support to help people get a prescription, and a reminder that condoms are necessary to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.”
    Numerous state and federal government websites (CDC, Department of Education, HUD, and even the National Park Service) link to the LA LGBT Center website relative to a variety of programs the center offers.
    Although the LA LGBT Center links to the CDC website for more information regarding PrEP, a CDC spokesperson replied only that the CDC "was not involved in the development or evaluation of the campaign" when asked about the soundness or appropriateness of the F*ck Without Fear message.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Heads Up

    When I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh, there were times when he would warn listeners that he was going to be talking about something they might not want to hear or they might not want their children to hear. He'd advise them to turn off their radios for a few minutes, and then count down, "five... four... three..." He'd say, I don't want anyone complaining, because I warned you...
    I am going to post something soon for which I am giving a similar caution. For years, I have had on this site a "I have a fairly low tolerance for bad/crude language" warning posted over there (--->), and this coming post certainly fits the bill, but I think it's important enough to post anyway.
    This warning post may come across as disingenuous hype designed to get more attention, but (unless I am self-deceiving,) it's really not.
    In any case, don't say I didn't warn you...