Country stars to focus AIDS ads on rural areas

The first full-scale nationwide AIDS-awareness campaign by country-music artists will be launched this month featuring 46 of the genre’s best-known stars using print, TV and radio ads to get its message out.

The effort will focus on rural America, a population segment that has one of the fastest growing infection rates.

The Break the Silence campaign will roll out Jan. 13, and will follow with an aggressive schedule of ads in popular publications mixed with radio and TV public service announcements.

Country’s big guns

Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Vince Gill, John Michael Montgomery, Wynonna, Joe Diffie, George Jones, Marty Stuart and Willie Nelson are among the heavy hitters participating in the campaign.

Each artist will deliver a straightforward message such as “Use a latex condom every time you have sex” and “Sleeping with your partner is sleeping with their past.”

Initiated by Mark Chesnutt, who’s co-chairing the Country Music AIDS Awareness Campaign with Mary-Chapin Carpenter, the campaign will be officially launched during ceremonies in Washington, D.C., with National AIDS policy coordinator Kristine M. Gebbie, who’s been dubbed the Clinton AIDS czar.

Rise in rural cases

Chesnutt decided to aim for rural America because of his close ties to the community and the research by Tennessee health officials that reported the significant rise in cases among residents.

“It seemed like every day there was something new about how it was spreading fastest among people in rural areas and southern states,” Chesnutt said. “I thought, hell, that’s where I’m from.”

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