A billboard as part of an HIV and AIDS awareness campaign in the US county of Dallas has been accused by some local residents of “promoting” homosexuality.
The billboard is part of the Update your Status campaign by the Greater than AIDS nonprofit organisation. It featured a picture of a gay couple, one black and one white, and promotes the use of local testing centres.
The campaign also features ads targeting straight women, and the group does not work exclusively within the LGBT community.
Dallas County has the highest HIV infection ratees in the state of Texas, and in the county almost half of new HIV infections are African American people.
“When I saw it I said, ‘Now what are they up to? They trying to promote two men being together?’” Bishop Eli Jacobs told Fox News.
Councilwoman Vonceil Jones-Hill, who the Huffington Post reports vowed never to attend a local pride event, wrote that the billboards contained several messages: “Presenting African American men who are homosexuals as acceptable. Engaging in such conduct presents health risks. Feel free to continue what you are doing but protect your health.”
“The message is very clear. The message is: among African American men who have sex with men the rate of HIV new cases is at an epidemic proportion,” Zach Thompson, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director said.
Dr John Carlo, executive director of AIDS Arms, which helps people living with HIV to find resources, said the campaign’s ultimate goal is awareness.
“The billboards speak for themselves in terms of the images they are trying to put forth the bigger picture is how we get people in to get tested,” he said.