WeHo City Hall Goes Blue and Business Owners Go Red Over PrEP Campaign

West Hollywood City Hall

West Hollywood City Hall went blue Wednesday night in support of a campaign to promote awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a pill that reduces the chance of HIV infection by as much as 99%.

The blue lights at City Hall, on through Sunday, are the latest part of a campaign by the L.A. LGBT Center that has included chalk art on five places on Santa Monica Boulevard proclaiming “F*ck w/out Fear” of the HIV virus. The campaign uses “uses raw, real language to raise awareness about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP),” the center said in an announcement of the blue lights.

Censored F*ck W/Out Fear sidewalk sign in front of Rage bar.

That raw language has upset some people. The word “F*ck” in the PrEP image on the sidewalk in front of Yogurt Stop at 8803 Santa Monica Blvd. was covered in tape today. The image on the sidewalk in front of Union Bank at Westbourne Drive also has been defaced. Shoshana Joseph, an owner of Yogurt Stop, said the PrEP campaign image was not good for her business.

“We’ve had a lot of customers come in upset,” she said. “They are ashamed and embarrassed by the words. Parents are appalled. Tourists are appalled.”

“We’re the most creative city in the world,” Joseph said, alluding to a branding slogan used by the city and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, “and we have the ugliest sidewalks in the world, and now we’re putting dirty words on them.”

The sidewalk campaign was approved by the West Hollywood City Council. “The City of West Hollywood continues to be a bold leader in fighting HIV and promoting sexual health,” said West Hollywood Councilmember John D’Amico in a statement from the Center about the campaign. “One pill a day PrEP and regular condom use are powerful tools to protect people from HIV, but too few people who are at greatest risk of infection know about PrEP.

‘F*ck w/out Fear’ image on sidewalk in front of Yogurt Stop.

“By featuring targeted campaign artwork on city sidewalks in front of popular bars, we’re reaching tens of thousands of people who live, work, and play in West Hollywood, and we’re able to do it at no cost to the Center or to taxpayers. We’re determined to end HIV transmissions here—and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, with its large sexual health facility in our city, is a great partner in helping us do that.”

“The Center and the City of West Hollywood are longtime partners in the fight against HIV and in advancing the health and well-being of LGBT people in general,” said Jim Key, the center’s chief marketing officer. “The city’s support, particularly by featuring campaign artwork on sidewalks, helps us reach many more people than we could ever afford to reach through other forms of advertising and is certain to prevent countless residents and visitors from a lifetime of infection with HIV. We’re enormously grateful to West Hollywood’s mayor, members of the City Council, and staff at City Hall.”

PrEP is administered by ingesting daily a drug called Truvada, whose blue color is the inspiration for the blue light campaign. It is covered by most insurance plans, and for individuals who don’t have insurance, there are patient assistance programs available through the center that can help make it affordable. After a free consultation, which can be scheduled online, most people can walk out with a prescription for PrEP. Transportation assistance is also available for individuals who don’t live close to the center’s facilities in Hollywood and West Hollywood.


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Randy
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Randy

I agree with Wehoan, in this case. That part of SMB caters mostly to young adults (still mostly gay), enjoying nightlife. Families strolling down SMB can also clearly see go go boys at Micky’s. I don’t care if people with puritanical views are offended. I care about the effectiveness of this campaign, because it contributes to us cornering HIV. And in this case, I think this will be a very effective marketing campaign. Also, if we can have a president that says p**sy, I think we can handle f*ck on the sidewalk.

Wehoan
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Wehoan

I think the awareness is necessary. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people visit our sidewalks and bars in the gayborhood from places far from here that may not have gotten the message yet about PrEP. Look, West Hollywood has been for years a bastion of sex, drugs, excess and hedonism. If you don’t embrace it, it’s going to spread elsewhere. This little corner of the world is one of the last holds on what remains of a primarily gay neighborhood. I’m sorry parents with strollers don’t like it, but Melrose would be a lovely walk to take where you can… Read more »

Jake
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Jake

Oh yes, Wehoan. Your don’t like it, leave approach is exactly the answer. Because Gays have never had to deal with such a thing.

kab1200
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kab1200

Well said, Doy.

jeffery ward
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jeffery ward

Marta/Shoshana, I was not trying to make this about a difference between men and women but by who gets to decide what is morally right, it was the voters, through their representatives, that approved this campaign and no one has the right to go out and deface these ads, they are publicly approved and on public property, defacing them would be a crime, as we have seen above, you and others might not like the campaign but that is an issue that should be taken up at city hall and not by anyone taking matters into their own hands by… Read more »

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[…] in front of Rage bar on Santa Monica west of San Vicente already had been defaced with red paint. Someone also already had put tape over the work “F*ck” in front of Yogurt Stop, one of whose owners has objected to the […]

JJ
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JJ

It’s an embarrassment. We have tourist visiting our city and children that live here. No class at all. There is a way to spread the word to adults without being crass. I wouldn’t want to walk my parents down Santa Monica Blvd. it’s becoming a real dump.

Jody
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Jody

If we can survive the AHF’s testing campaign that sowed distrust and fear, we’ll survive, and thrive, under this campaign, which encourages protection and regular testing. The research is quite clear as to the effectiveness of PrEP, which is about as close to “perfect” as medicine gets. So too with undetectable viral load preventing HIV transmission from occurring. These are awesome advancements. They really do put fears to bed. The lowering of new HIV infections for the first time means we have a chance to break this thing once and for all. Lastly, there’s a certain hypocritical irony in a… Read more »

marta/shoshana
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marta/shoshana

This has absolutely nothing to do with a female/male issue. I have been a member of this community for 27 years and Shoshana for 15 years. Our friends are male, female, gay, straight, bi and transgender. This “man-hater” rhetoric needs to stop as it’s perpetuated by those only who have those thoughts enter their minds and it does nothing to further us as a community. Neither does profanity on our sidewalks which, in our opinion, is crude and crass. You may feel differently which is okay as we are a community of individual ideas, diversity and acceptance. In our opinion,… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
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Shawn Thompson

More importantly we also worked on the idea that AHF had no desire to help educate negative individulas once they tested that prep could protect them in the future. That in fact AHF testing vans were there to get new clients and make money off the drugs of a POZ guy https://www.facebook.com/shawnthompsonla/videos/vb.1081176021/10205135407759750/?type=3&theater

Shawn Thompson
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Shawn Thompson

Im proud to say I was working on #Prep Awareness in #weho 2 years ago. Past all the condom hysteria is a simple fact. Prep stops HIV. The end. https://www.facebook.com/shawnthompsonla/videos/10204877574874089/

Isaiah
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Isaiah

@Snarkygal

What does that have to do with anything? There is an extremely large gay community and this is an issue affecting them. Sometimes problems might affect people other than yourself.

Roy O
Guest
Roy O

99% is not 100%, No math genius here, but if you are Grindring your way around town, well, a hundred tricks is not out of the question, and POOF! infected. So, yes, continue to use a condom. I’m on PrEP now and have been for a year, with no evident side effects. However, I will google this supervirus asap! Let’s just ditch the part of the adverts on the walk that has the poster with profanity. Oh, and Jason your comment is exactly why some groups don’t publicly endorse PrEP. Reckless behavior is a sad choice with so much to… Read more »