The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene continues to defend a controversial HIV/AIDS PSA that critics say stigmatizes gay men.
According to the Housing Works blog, Monica Sweeney, the assistant commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control at the department, credited the video with inciting necessary conversation about the disease, regardless of opinions. She spoke to more than 100 people gathered Thursday at a Ryan White Planning Council meeting in Manhattan.
"We need to think of all the possible ways . . . to get people's attention, because HIV definitely isn't on the front page anymore, at least not until this ad came out," she said.
While some HIV/AIDS activists have expressed support for the PSA, a coalition of groups including Housing Works and Gay Men's Health Crisis has denounced the ad, which uses graphic imagery to scare young men into using condoms. The PSA premiered in December and runs through January.
Members of the planning council, which wrote to Sweeney asking for the ad's termination, also wanted to know why there were not consulted about the PSA, which the assistant commissioner said was in the making for more than three years.