Outreach campaign in Alberta, Canada uses satire to encourage testing for syphilis
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The Canadian province of Alberta is using humor to fuel a public campaign encouraging young adults to receive testing for syphilis. This program is part of a larger initiative aimed at fighting the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other blood-borne illnesses, according to the Record-Gazette.
The campaign uses somewhat comical content to illuminate the harsh reality of STDs. In the various commercials, 20-something men and women are depicted getting ready to go out to bars, restaurants and clubs, ostensibly in search of casual sex, all the while unable to see the red chancre sores of first-stage syphilis on their faces, which are visible to commercial viewers.
Despite its decidedly unconventional thematic tone, the campaign, budgeted at approximately $2 million, appears to be having a positive effect. The news source reports that since the campaign began, about 17 percent more people are visiting clinics for STD testing and requesting to be tested for syphilis than before.
Syphilis is far from the only STD that is present in Alberta, with HIV and AIDS as well as hepatitis C being reported in the province. However, syphilis is of particular concern. According to Alberta's Health and Wellness agency, the disease has increased from just under 30 cases in 2003 to more than 250 cases in 2009.
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