May 16, 1990

Messages Prove 'You Can Do That on Television'

JAMA. 1990;263(19):2588-2593. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440190044020

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"IF I told you I could save my life just by putting on my socks, you wouldn't take me seriously. Because life is never that simple," the barefoot man on television declares. "But watch." He bends over, inserts his toes in his sock, and deliberately rolls it up his calf. Then he looks into the camera. "You're right, that wouldn't really save my life, but there's something just as simple that could." Immediately, the words "America Responds to AIDS" appear on the screen, with the phone number of the National AIDS Hotline.

Treading gingerly around a moral issue that often prompts network censorship, the segment unmistakably brings home the message of using condoms to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection without ever using the word "condom."

This imaginative television "spot" in many ways typifies the goals and challenges facing the "America Responds to AIDS" campaign, a program of the CDC's