New Billboards Portray A Fiery Hell In Which We All Have Syphilis
You've probably become accustomed to the AIDS Health Foundation's last syphilis billboard, featuring an embarrassed bear and the statistic that California ranks second when it the country when it comes to most syphilis. Their new billboard, however, is much more dramatic. It kind of looks like it would work better as the cover of a book about people left behind after the Rapture or a SyFy original about a volcanado or something. It's got some seriously apocalyptic graphic design, spelling out 'Syphilis Explosion' over an image of an erupting volcano. There is also a video where "In the Hall of the Mountain King" bombastically plays over footage of explosions and reported increases in syphilis cases by city. Portland, apparently, has allegedly seen an 895 percent increase in cases of syphilis between 2008 and 2012. That's a mind-boggling amount of syphilis. It doesn't mention how much Los Angeles has increased in the video.
The ads are meant to encourage people to check out freeSTDcheck.org, which will help you get tested for STDs and, if you have syphilis, get treated. Obviously, getting tested is not a bad idea, and according to this graph from the California Department of Public Health, syphilis is, in fact, on the rise—particularly among men. Oddly enough, syphilis isn't even one of the 'burning' STDs. The CDC lists a burning feeling during urination for men and women who contract chlamydia and gonorrhea, but early signs of syphilis include painless bumps, rashes and flu-like symptoms. You can read all the symptoms of various STDs here.
Now, there's no evidence indicating whether or not the billboards are actually encouraging people to get tested. Dale R. Gluth, the regional director of the Bay Area AHF, told SF Weekly that the campaign is too young to tell. SF Weekly also pointed out that the billboards kind of look like the cover of Dianetics.
So, what do Angelenos think about this syphilis explosion billboards? Has anyone been inspired to get tested? We checked Twitter.
People say it's hard to get in a festive spirit in LA, but these STD awareness billboards that say "Syphilis Explosion" are doing it for me.— Joseph Scrimshaw (@JosephScrimshaw) November 29, 2014
Well, there we have it. Stay safe, Los Angeles.