- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Health officials yanked public-service announcements urging HIV testing after a homosexual advocacy group expressed concerns about images depicting young black men in a gun’s cross hairs.

“Putting the face of a black man in the cross hairs of a gun paints a damaging message about violence and black men,” said Lee Carson, chairman of the Black Gay Men’s Leadership Council.

The $236,000 campaign, which ended abruptly Monday, was geared at homosexual and bisexual men and featured the tagline, “Have YOU been hit?”

“Given the violence perpetrated against gay men, it is not far-fetched to see how this campaign fosters violence,” Mr. Carson wrote to interim Health Commissioner Carmen Paris.

Miss Paris said she “inherited” the campaign and only recently saw the announcements. She added, “The right thing to do, of course, is not to promote any message that could be perceived as promoting violence.”

The campaign began May 19 with messages on buses, television, postcards and a Web site. Zigzag Net Inc., the Philadelphia-based marketing company that developed the campaign, spent months setting up two focus groups to evaluate the most effective themes.

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