A second wave of infectionsTen years into the AIDS epidemic, there was still no cure for AIDS. But new drugs showed promise against AIDS-related diseases. Some, thinking that “AIDS could be treated,” began to abandon safer-sex practices. The HIV infection rate began to climb. The Public Health Department responded with new outreach efforts, stressing the need to continue practicing safer sex and encouraging condom use. More edgy and explicit materials were designed to catch people’s attention and were narrowly distributed to predominantly gay venues.
1990328 new cases
1991353 new cases
1992371 new cases
Dr. Bob on the resurgence of HIV infections
How do you help people change?From the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, Public Health saw that condom use was critical to preventing the disease’s spread. The challenge was to help people learn to accept safer sex practices as the norm.
King Condom: resistance to condomsFrank Chaffee describes the reaction he received distributing condoms before condom use was widely accepted. (Oral history interview, January 2016.)
What was learned about changing behaviorGary Goldbaum discusses how APP research has informed Public Health efforts at changing people’s behavior. (Oral history interview, August 2015.)
Believing you can changeKaren Hartfield explains the current understanding of how people’s beliefs affect their ability to change. (Oral history interview, July 2015.)
The Condom CampaignIn 1994 and 1995, Public Health promoted condom use to the general public through a series of signs appearing on Metro buses.
Tim Burak tells how the committee was formed and discusses how standards have changed. (Oral history interview, July 2015.)
Public standards and the Smut CommitteeStandards around what content was considered appropriate for the public (what was “decent”) changed over time. In the 1980s, grant-funded outreach and educational materials had to be vetted by the CDC for approval or censorship. Later, the APP was allowed to form its own review committee, informally referred to as the Smut Committee. Members included health educators, medical professionals, and the media. The APP gradually became freer to create attention-getting content that resonated with at-risk groups. Public Health sought to strike a balance: creating materials that were engaging and accurate, while not crossing over into what might be seen as indecency. The most explicit materials were not designed for the general public and were placed in targeted venues such as gay bars or bath houses.
The Power of a WordAn award-winning poster designed by the ad firm Cole & Weber (at no charge to Public Health) was intended for a gay male audience, but it drew so much attention that Playboy Magazine asked permission to feature it in its Forum section. Public Health expressed concern that publication outside the intended arena (Seattle’s Gay Pride Parade) might jeopardize the program and would serve no legitimate public health purpose. Playboy editors chose to feature the poster regardless, with a jab at local politics.
Stella SeattleOne prominent campaign from this period was Stella Seattle, a serial comic about a health educator and his friends, illustrated by Dominic Cappello using the pen name Paul Hornby. The single-panel comics were printed on postcards placed in gay bars and bathhouses and were published in gay newspapers. Stella Seattle also had a 1995 calendar, mugs, T-shirts, magnets, posters, and, at the end of its run, a comic book with all of the episodes.
19932,012 deaths to date
19942,454 deaths to date
OutLOUDPublic Health collaborated with with the Asian Pacific AIDS Council, Entre Hermanos, the Northwest AIDS Foundation, POCAAN, and YouthCare for the OutLOUD campaign (1994-1996). Outreach materials in the form of tabloids, ‘zines, and trading cards told true stories to provide real-life role models for safer-sex practices.
Posted In: Safer Sex: The New Normal?