Aids In The Media

The media coverage of HIV/AIDS has help tremendously in the fight to educate the public on the disease. The media has help decrease the spread of HIV by promoting safe sex practices and not just abstinence, prenatal HIV testing, and safe drug use. The media has dispelled a lot of myths about how you can get HIV, like being about to catch it from a toilet seat. The media in recent years has taken a back seat on how to continue promoting HIV/AIDS education but some media coverage still remains. MTV is promoting its “BE SAFE” campaign, which promotes safe sex practices. MTV has played a major part in dispelling the myths about HIV/AIDS. Soon after its first broadcast in 1981, MTV reported on the AIDS epidemic, and aired PSAs on how to protect against AIDS. There biggest contribution was casting a HIV positive cast member, Pedro, on the Real World: San Francisco in 1994. MTV has never been afraid to show the public the effects of HIV/AIDS, or educate them on how to practice safer sex.

Here are two examples of MTV recent “BE SAFE” PSA. These PSAs are focused on the increasing number of heterosexual women who are contracting HIV/AIDS. Warning some content may shock you.

Aids in the Media


1986: the first public service announcement (PSA) under the slogan “Rumors are spreading faster than AIDS” was aired on television that featured Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro. This campaign challenged many American’s beliefs about AIDS. This was the birth of education through mass media, and television aids.

1987: America Responds to AIDS was launched by the CDC, as the first government sponsored national education program to address AIDS. The goal of America Response to Aids was to start a public dialogue about AIDS to get rid of myths and decrease fear. There first initiative was to advertise real people affected by the disease featuring the tagline “Know the facts about AIDS”.

1988: December 1st marked the first World AIDS day

AIDS Prevention ads run alongside American Responds to Aids campaign. AIDS Prevention ads focused on using latex condoms with spermicide during sex and were the first ads to use the work “condom”.

1989: America Responds to AIDS begins to PSAs that target more high risk groups such as: minorities, sexually active young adults, and injection drug users.

The band Kiss and Madonna put AIDS prevention slogans on their album jackets.


1990: American Responds to AIDS created ads that target parents to talk to their kids about AIDS.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) joined with the Ad Council to create a campaign focused on drug abuse and AIDS prevention. The campaign had ads that were to resemble a slasher film and features the tag line “AIDS, another way that drugs can kill you.” A few of the ads were narrated by Spike Lee and directed by Martin Scorsese. This campaign later evolved into “Get High. Get Stupid. Get AIDS.”(1992).

1991: Magic Johnson announces he has HIV.

American Responds to AIDS begins to focus on testing and treatment.

1992: AIDS become the leading cause of death in males from the ages 25-44.

LIFEbeat organization was created by the music industry to teach America’s youth about HIV/AIDS.

1993: The CDC started a campaign that focused on African Americans, and Latinos.
Country Music AIDS Awareness was developed the campaign “Break the Silence” which featured country music stars and was played on country music stations.

1994: AIDS becomes the leading cause of death in all people in the US 25-44 years of age.

The Real World: San Francisco featured Pedro Zamora, a young gay man who was infected with AIDS.

M-A-C Cosmetics created the M-A-C AIDS Fund which raises money for people affected by HIV/AIDS thorough promotion of the VIVA GLAM lipstick and celebrity endorsed PSA campaigns.

1995: The Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Ad council create PSAs focused on the importance of HIV screening for pregnant women.

June 27th-First National HIV Testing day

1996: The Act UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) started a campaign using the slogan “Silence=Death” that was featured underneath a pink triangle.

The television show “ER” featured a Physician Assistant named Jeanie Boulet (played by Gloria Reuben) contracting HIV.

American Response to AIDS ends its campaign

1997: The Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV join forces to create the “BE SAFE” campaign.

1998: MTV international created a public education campaign called “Staying alive” to help educate young people around the world about AIDS.

Black Entertainment Televisions (BET) launches “Rap it up” focuses on the impact of AIDS on the African American community.


2002: The Kasier family Foundation did a study and found that there has been about dozen AIDS themed story lines on shows such as Cold Case, Judging Amy, and American’s Next Top Model.

2004: VH1 developed a PSA to help raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS featuring the tagline “Stop AIDS Before it Stops the World”.

2005: “The Knowing is Spreading” campaign featuring Common promotes empowerment of young people to get test for HIV.
Kenneth Cole launches the “We all have AIDS” campaign focusing on decreasing the stigma of people affected by AIDS.

2005-2006: Youth AIDS/AlDO fights AIDS created a print campaign featuring celebrities like Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, Avril Lavigne , and Ludicris to raise money for global education of AIDS.

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