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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 23, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 25
New AHF billboards warn of 'Syphilis Tsunami'
Section One
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New AHF billboards warn of 'Syphilis Tsunami'

LOS ANGELES - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has launched its latest outdoor advertising campaign with new billboards warning of a 'Syphilis Tsunami' going up around Los Angeles and other U.S. cities this week.

AHF's 'Syphilis Tsunami' outdoor advertising campaign references the world-renowned landscape print 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' by Katsushika Hokusai to draw attention to dramatically rising rates of syphilis across the country. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted an estimated 33% increase of infectious syphilis cases from 2014-2016.

The national response needed to this growing public health crisis is made even more urgent by the fact that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Bicillin L-A (Penicillin G benzathine), the preferred medication used to treat syphilis and the only treatment recommended by the CDC for pregnant women with the infection, has refused to meet the medical demand through constant drug shortages and multiple stockouts of the treatment over the past year, as widely reported by news organizations and health agencies.

In May, health advocates from AHF and other groups took to the streets in Manhattan to protest in front of Pfizer's New York City corporate headquarters to draw attention to the drug company's third drug stockout of Bicillin L-A in less than one year.

'For several years, AHF has been sounding the alarm on the rising rates of syphilis and other STDs through our outdoor advertising campaigns, including our 'Syphilis Explosion' billboards that made headlines around the world, and yet we continue to see an inadequate response from the CDC and the drug companies to address this growing public health threat,' said AHF President Michael Weinstein. 'Clearly, we need to keep making the public aware of syphilis and encourage sexually active individuals to get tested for STDs regularly and be treated. By posting these billboards in highly visible areas, we also want to keep pressure on public health officials to push Pfizer to produce sufficient quantities of the medication needed to address the syphilis epidemic.'

'Pfizer, which has the exclusive patent on Bicillin L-A, is the third largest drug company in the world, with more than $50 billion in revenue reported in 2016, yet, somehow this American pharmaceutical powerhouse has been unable or unwilling to prepare for, and/or meet the demand by medical providers, pharmacies - and patients - for its syphilis medication for nearly the entire past year,' said Jessica Reinhart, Associate Director of Community Outreach for AHF. 'We will continue to call on Pfizer to right this ship or allow a generic drug maker to begin manufacturing and selling the medication.'

As a follow up to AHF's groundbreaking 'Syphilis Explosion' outdoor advertising campaign, the 'Syphilis Tsunami' billboards will appear in Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA; Miami, FL and Columbus, OH. The outdoor campaign will be complemented by a digital media campaign to draw attention to the national syphilis epidemic and to put pressure on Pfizer to supply Bicillin L-A in quantities that meets the growing demand for treatment.

To find locations for free STD/HIV screening, visit www.freestdcheck.org. Seattle's AHF Healthcare Center is located at 1016 E Pike St. 206-302-2020.



AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 768,000 individuals in 39 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us: @aidshealthcare

Courtesy of AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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