A billboard designed to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in Dallas, Texas has come under scrutiny for featuring a black couple. The billboard is part of the Dallas Is Greater Than AIDS campaign but according to Councilwoman Vonceil Jones-Hill, it’s promoting homosexuality among black men.
In an email to Dallas’ Fox 4, Jones-Hill wrote that the billboard has 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.
Dallas County has the highest HIV infection rate in all of Texas, so for Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson, there is only one message. “The message is: among African American men who have sex with men the rate of HIV new cases is at an epidemic proportion,” Thompson said.
In Dallas County, 49% of all new HIV infections are among African Americans. Nationwide, the numbers don’t look much better:
Featuring a gay black couple on a billboard in Texas was bound to stir some controversy, but that’s exactly what makes it so effective. Visibility is a key factor in raising awareness so Councilwoman Jones-Hill is just going to have to accept that.