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AIDS Phone Card

The California Department of Health Services will announce this morning the free distribution of 50,000 10-minute calling cards to help reduce the spread of HIV. The long distance calling cards will play an AIDS prevention message before callers use the cards. The cards will be distributed through radio promotions and grassroots organizations. California estimates 8,000 residents will contract HIV this year to join 37,000 other Californians with HIV.

FULL STORY:
The California Department of Health Services Office of AIDS will launch the first-ever long distance calling card campaign aimed at reducing the spread of HIV.

The state will distribute 50,000 free 10-minute calling cards, which play an AIDS prevention message before callers use the cards, to Californians most at risk for contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

“Despite the recent drop in AIDS deaths, the incidence of HIV infection among the populations we are targeting with this campaign has not declined,” said State Health Director Kim Belshe.

“Calling cards have been used successfully in the private sector to promote products and services. We are using the same marketing strategy to deliver an HIV prevention message to those most at risk of contracting this preventable disease.”

The campaign will launch with a series of radio promotions throughout the state through which disc jockeys will give away the cards as part of an educational on-air promotion.

Calling cards will also be distributed through a grassroots outreach effort by community-based organizations to at-risk populations including young gay men, particularly African American and Latino gay men; non-gay identified men who have sex with men and their female partners, with an emphasis on people of color; and injection drug users and their sexual partners.

Organizations will distribute calling cards at locations popular among these high-risk groups, including nightclubs and bars, street hangouts, cruising areas or sex clubs.

Prior to accessing long distance for each call, the caller will hear, “You have the power to stop HIV and AIDS. Usa a condom every time you have sex. For more information on safer sex or HIV testing, call the California AIDS Hotline at 1-800-367-AIDS.” The face of the cards carries the message “respect yourself protect yourself” to reinforce the prevention message.

The long distance calling card promotion is one component of the state’s aggressive AIDS Prevention Campaign. The comprehensive effort includes a safer sex campaign aimed at sexually active 18 to 24 year olds, and a “get tested” campaign targeting those most at risk for contracting HIV.

Nearly 37,000 Californians are now living with the disease and at the current rate of infection, approximately 8,000 more will contract HIV this year.

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