LAS VEGAS, Nevada (FOX5) – A risque Monkeypox awareness ad from the Southern Nevada Health District has sparked debate among members of the medical community and among LGBTQIA+ advocates, whether the message promotes gay stereotyping and stigma , or if it’s a cutting-edge way to capture a Las Vegas-based audience during a public health emergency.
The ad, showing a man in his underwear, says, “Now that we have your attention…Keep up to date with monkeypox,” promoting knowledge of signs and symptoms and free vaccinations.
According to SNHD, spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said these were “highly targeted ads” delivered by a third party, and that gay people were among the targeted audiences. “We recognize that was not the approach,” she said by phone after the ad was pulled, saying SNHD was looking for a “better way to get the message across” with a “wider approach “.
Other ads are still running on Instagram and other platforms promoting vaccinations and awareness.
Chandler Kramer, a local nurse and LGBTQIA+ advocate, saw the ad on his phone and expressed his concern to SNHD. Her husband owns the local hotspot The Garden and promotes Pride tourism in the valley.
“It just made the LGBT or gay community seem sexually promiscuous, and that’s the only way to get my attention when I’m so much more than that. And we are all so much more than that,” Kramer said, concerned about stigma and hate. “To put that label on the LGBTQ community, I think we’ve seen the harm that’s happened with that with COVID, stigmatizing with the Asian population, and the backlash they received at the time,” said he declared.
“It’s not a gay disease, and it’s not a sexually transmitted disease either,” he said.
Monkeypox, according to doctors, is not an STD. The virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, sexual contact, bodily fluids, contact with “fomites” from laundry and linens, and respiratory droplets from being in a confined space for hours with an infected person. Scenarios include sexual contact, large and crowded gatherings, and household spread. Men, women and children have caught the disease, although the gay and bisexual male community has been disproportionately affected due to large gatherings and festivals.
In contrast, the director of the Huntridge Clinic, which helps the LGBTQ+ community with STD prevention, vaccinations and health, was disappointed with the decision. He has spoken with health officials and believes the announcement should come back.
“The way we are going to have the greatest impact in this whole public health emergency is to continue to think outside the box. We need to look at this from a harm reduction, prevention and marketing perspective. And be open-minded,” Phoenix said, seeing the concerns but saying the impact on the target audience is crucial.
“There are billboards all over the Strip, we’re a very hypersexual community. And we have to do things that will get attention. It just shows a very attractive person. It’s not about them identify as gay…why couldn’t this ad target women?because some women are at risk for this…why don’t we embrace this and view it as an opportunity to increase and broaden awareness?” he said.
The Huntridge Clinic is hosting two vaccination clinics this weekend, in support of Black Gay Pride.
- Saturday, 9 p.m.: Jimmy’s at Madison
- Sunday, 10 p.m.: The Fireworks
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