Gay Sexual Health Ad Meets Resistance In South Africa

We The Brave is a new sexual health campaign in South Africa, aimed at educating and protecting men who have sex with men. This ad is the the first of its kind on South African television, as was the use of the image of a condom.

Some media outlets have asked for the ad to be ‘toned down’ while others have outright refused to air or print the content due to concerns about alienating or offending their readers. Yet this is vital information for the sexual health of a population that is most at risk for HIV.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Anova Health Institute and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and it directly addresses HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. It’s meant to send its vital message honestly, in a non-judgemental, sex positive – and most importantly – entertaining – way.

“HIV is is still a huge problem, and with the amount of stigmatisation MSM [men having sex with men] still face in South Africa, we do not have the luxury of tip-toeing around the issues,” says Nina Morris Lee, Head of Marketing at Anova. “We understand our market and are careful to always remain sex positive versus adding to discrimination by being fear-based. The aim of the content is not to shock, but to attract our market through creating scenarios to which they relate.”

About the rejection and requests for censorship of the ads, Morris Lee says that it speaks of the ignorance and stigmatization gay men still face. “Clearly, our work in this country has only just begun.”

A series of print ads and videos were produced for the campaign, some tamer than others. The video shown here depicts a simple kiss between two men in a flourish of musical climax at the family dinner table, but a few take it a little further by showing naked buttocks, a leather-clad “sugar daddy,” and simulated sexual acts.

Men who have sex with men are South Africa’s most at risk population for HIV acquisition and transmission. We applaud We The Brave’s initiative to encourage healthy sexual choices like wearing condoms and getting tested regularly. And the ads are eye-catching, dramatic and just plain fun to watch.

Visit wethebrave.co.za and use the #WeTheBrave #BraveEnough hashtags to join the conversation on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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