By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com October 27 2013 1:10 PM ET
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has partnered with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) for a new HIV awareness campaign, according to a recent press release.
“Protect Yourself at All Times” is the name of the new campaign, which is designed to specifically raise awareness of the realities of HIV among young people under 30 years of age.
“As someone who grew up in the 1980s and saw the virus beaten back with education in the 1990s, I was stunned to learn from our friends at The Center that HIV is still having such a dramatic impact on young people,” UFC COO Ike Lawrence Epstein said in a press release. “No other sport reaches the under-35 demographic like the UFC does and the UFC felt a duty to try and do something about this situation.”
“HIV stopped being a ‘gay issue’ long ago but, unfortunately, it has now very much become a ‘young issue.’ The jarring fact is that young gay men are becoming infected at a much higher rate,” said Robert Elkins, CEO of The Center. “The lack of both awareness and accessible information for teenagers and young adults is truly frightening. It’s like the 1990s never happened in terms of education and public awareness. In the UFC, we have the perfect partner to fight this ignorance, and we thank them for joining us in this battle.”
UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin is the current spokesman for the campaign. “I had 15 fights in the UFC Octagon during my career, and before each and every one of them, I had a HIV test,” he said. “I’m encouraging everybody to show themselves and their partners the same respect I showed my opponents by getting tested and protecting themselves at all times.”
The Protect Yourself At All Times campaign will be rolled out in the weeks ahead leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1 with several UFC athletes and personalities visiting centers nationwide who offer free HIV tests and educational initiatives. The UFC has also announced will be creating public service announcements to be distributed across its media platforms and it will fully support The Center’s LGBTQ+ program, which offers free HIV tests to the wider Las Vegas community.