Viacom, Kaiser Family Foundation announce new Aids awareness campaign

MUMBAI: As part of their public education initiative Know Hiv/Aids initiative US media conglomerate Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation have announced a new campaign The Know Is Spreading.



The initiative aims to normalise testing as part of routine health care in the US. The new series in the US will feature targetted television, radio and outdoor messages and an online marketing effort to encourage young people and those at higher risk for HIV to get tested. Since launching Know HIV/AIDS in January 2003, Viacom has committed $600 million in media value to the campaign, which includes public service announcements (PSAs) and storylines in popular television programming.

Working with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Miami-based ad agency, Viacom and Kaiser advance the campaign’s emphasis on testing with “The Know Is Spreading” theme that underscores how information can spread faster than any disease, and asks those at risk to “know” their status. This latest effort enlisted The Barnstormers, a collective of young New York- and Tokyo-based artists, who used a city block in Philadelphia as a temporary canvas to create artistic images, which serve as the essence of the new national PSAs and the new online component. With this latest wave, Know HIV/Aids seeks to de-stigmatise testing by taking away the sense of fear so people can protect themselves or find the necessary care.



Kaiser Family Foundation senior VP Matt James says, “One in four people living with HIV in the US do not know that they are infected. Our hope is that Know HIV/Aids will help raise awareness among young people at risk for HIV and encourage them to get tested.”

In this latest wave, Know HIV/Aids has introduced two new elements that expand the scope of the campaign to date. In collaboration with the city of Philadelphia, Know HIV/Aids transformed a city block into a giant HIV/Aids awareness art installation, which is featured in the new television ads and on the new online effort. The Barnstormers, who paint in an urban, graffiti style, created the mural that spread over the streets, sidewalks, walls, subways and cars of the city to illustrate the power of knowledge about the epidemic spreading through a community and the importance of knowing one’s HIV status. The Barnstormers worked with a group of young artists from the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia. The campaign also includes Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Common, who contributed four original spoken word pieces for the radio PSAs and is featured in the television ads.



Also, for the first time in the initiative’s history, Know HIV/Aids launched an online marketing effort,, which was made in conjunction with the Philadelphia mural installation and the latest round of PSAs. The site features various interactive content, including a virtual graffiti wall on which users can create their own art, similar to that of The Barnstormers. Users can also download screensavers, view behind-the-scenes video featuring special footage of the artists and interviews with Common, and “spread the know” themselves by forwarding the site to others. Most importantly, the site includes information about HIV/Aids and an HIV testing center locator so users can find a testing site near them.

Common said, "I have witnessed firsthand the effects of HIV/Aids and realised the difference self-love and support from the community can make. I also know how much of an influence we as hip-hop artists have on our audiences, so I wanted to share my self and my talents to help open the eyes and hearts of young people to the importance of testing.”

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