Act Against AIDS: the First Year

Health Protection Perspectives

In April 2009, CDC and the White House launched Act Against AIDS Exit Disclaimer (AAA), a 5-year, $45-million communication campaign. After almost 20 years since the last national HIV campaign, it was past time to again initiate a national conversation about one of the worst epidemics this country has ever experienced. In the United States, we have approximately 56,000 new infections annually. The AAA campaign was designed to combat complacency about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and support CDC”s goals for reducing new HIV infections in the U.S. Now, a little more than a year since its launch, CDC has released the First Year-End Report: April 2009–March 2010 (PDF, 442 KB). This report highlights some of the achievements and developments of this multifaceted campaign. Among the most significant accomplishments of AAA in its first year were the many partnerships forged and the successful releases of three AAA campaign phases. In all, the first year brought more than 430 million media impressions, which represent the estimated number of times a campaign message was seen or heard.

9 1/2 Minutes Campaign Phase

The first phase of AAA, called 9 1/2 Minutes Exit Disclaimer, delivers the key message to the general public that right here in the United States, every 9 1/2 minutes, someone’s brother, mother, sister, father, or neighbor is infected with HIV. We worked to reach people by placing public service announcements, securing donated advertising space, hosting HIV prevention education and testing events, and moving people to seek information about HIV prevention online and in their community.

In two other AAA phases we focused on African Americans because while they comprise only 12% of the U.S. population, they account for nearly half (45%) of all new HIV infections and almost half of all Americans living with HIV, a staggering statistic.

Black MSM Testing Campaign Phase

In September 2009, we launched a phase to encourage HIV testing on a regular basis among black men who have sex with men (MSM).This Black MSM HIV testing phase was designed through collaboration with an expert consultant work group of Black MSM and began delivering HIV testing messages to young Black MSM through on-line banner ads.

i know Campaign Phase

Another phase of AAA launched this year, called i know Exit Disclaimer, seeks to get African American men and women aged 18–24 years talking about HIV with peers, partners, and families. Launched in March 2010, the i know phase of AAA utilizes social media to encourage open and frequent dialog about HIV, both on-line and off. i know features celebrity Web videos, radio PSAs, a Facebook fan page, live Twitter feeds, and other platforms intended to create an informative dialogue about HIV and what can be done to prevent it.

All of the AAA activities have had incredible reach. National media coverage includes highlighting the campaign on CNN’s “House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta;” The Tavis Smiley Radio Show on PBS; The Bev Smith Show’s interview with President Barack Obama about National HIV Testing Day; USA Today: “i know AIDS initiative targets young blacks with social media;” and CNN Headline News: “New social media effort arms young adults in the fight against HIV.”

For this effort and perhaps any outreach—the key is partner collaboration. CDC has been joined in this effort by partner organizations in both the public and the private sectors that have contributed immensely to the first year of AAA. Our partners have been able to have input into the development of campaign phases and are able to extend the reach of important HIV prevention messages. For example, in our first year, AAA partnered with 14 national African American organizations to develop the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI). These partners have contributed greatly to the successful first year of AAA, integrating HIV prevention messages into their networks. Most importantly, these highly influential national organizations specifically reach those populations at greatest risk. In the second year of AAA, AAALI is expanding to include membership of organizations that specifically reach men who have sex with men (MSM) and Latinos, both groups that are disproportionately affected by HIV.

The campaign utilizes traditional mass media, television, radio, billboards, and print, as well as social media—through the Internet such as banners, buttons, widgets, and videos—to distribute lifesaving messages further and faster than was possible almost 30 years ago when this epidemic surfaced. The possible reach using traditional and new media is unprecedented.

We want to hear your thoughts on the campaign. I invite you to take time to post your response to the AAA campaign here. Let us know what you are doing to raise awareness and reduce the infection rates of HIV and let us know what we can do better. Thank you.


  1. Leroy Rose Jr. says:

    We the people of all nation must continue on a daily action to have coversation about HIV/AIDS behavior prevention. Through the media lets bringing back the banners of red ribbon in central areas of light poles in the city. There are tv monitors at bus,train,airport,subway station and supermakets that can present sexual behavior prevention to open the mind to practice making right choose.PREVENTION IS INVESTMENT. This will decrease the Infection and balance the funding.

  2. It’s been years since I’ve seen a p.s.a. about HIV/AIDS awareness. I remember ten years ago there was a greater emphasis on fundraising like sponsored charity walks. It’s nice to see this come to the forefront again. It would be nice to see that budget double to 90 million!

  3. So far am equally pleased with the progress report. I want to advocate further that more AAA activitities are need to target Faith-based institutions and immigrant populations. They have unique needs that call for unique and cultural sensitive approaches

  4. Dena Gray says:

    Congratulations on the success of your campaign. As a long-time advocate for HIV preventio, treatment, housing and support and as an HIV positive woman, I am very impressed with the increased level of knoweldge and support that the community, particularly the African American community, has shown towards eradicating this epidemic.
    My concern is the lack of involvement or support from the HIV positive community. Where are we in the process. No one contracts HIV unless they engage in risky behavior with someone who is HIV positive, but sometimes the messages leave out the role of the positive person.
    Again, congrats but as you move forward, please give some additional attention to the role that the HIV positive person can play in prevention messaging.
    Thank you.

  5. I read an article earlier today that shows great promise that a vaccine will be likely after 2-3 years of research.
    “In the blood of an HIV infected person, the researchers discovered two powerful antibodies that neutralize 91% of HIV strains” webmd
    It would be amazing for on organization like the Gates Foundation to put some weight behind the effort and get this developed and distributed as soon as humanly possible!

Speak Your Mind


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *