The Ultimate Fighting Championship® organization, in partnership with four prominent New York City organizations – Latino Commission on AIDS; Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC); the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center); and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of New York City – today announced the launch a new public awareness campaign, “Protect Yourself,” aimed at spreading the word on the importance of HIV testing and safe sex, particularly for those under 30-years-old.
In the 1990s, there were major breakthroughs in both the treatment of and education about the HIV pandemic. Because of anti-viral drugs, HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was; and because of the tremendous mainstream media focus on the disease in the 1990s there was an educated population who practiced safe sex. The result was infection rates fell significantly.
Over the last 15-years complacency has set in, however, resulting in a younger generation ill-informed about the dangers and realities of the disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated the ignorance of young Americans on the realities of HIV and AIDS is “shocking”, “astonishing” and “just unacceptable.” In 2012, half of the 50,000 Americans infected with the disease were under the age of 30.
The UFC, the Latino Commission, GMHC, The Center, and NBLCA are now picking a fight with that ignorance by launching an awareness campaign called “Protect Yourself.”
“After all the success this country had in combating HIV and AIDS in the 1990s – largely through education – it is stunning to see the effect that HIV is having on a new generation of Americans and New Yorkers,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and CEO. “We began a similar public awareness campaign in Nevada in partnership with The Center (the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada) and I am so pleased that we are able to join with four outstanding New York institutions to launch this campaign in New York.
“No other sport reaches the under 35 demographic like the UFC does and we feel a duty to try and do something about this situation. Thanks to Dennis, Miesha and so many of our athletes for their commitment. UFC takes great pride in being part of the ‘Protect Yourself’ campaign to help educate young New Yorkers about the realities of HIV, the importance of testing and the need to practice safe sex,” Fertitta said.
“We are very pleased that the UFC and many of their athletes are joining the fight in New York to educate people about HIV and AIDS. We know that young people pay attention to what celebrities and star athletes do, and to have imprimatur of the UFC and world-class athletes like Dennis Bermudez and Miesha Tate saying that protecting yourself is important will be a very powerful message,” said Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “This campaign will help raise awareness to new audiences and I want to recognize the UFC for their commitment to this vital cause.”
“The growth of new HIV infections within the LGBT community, in particular among gay and bisexual men, transgender people and youth of color, continues to pose serious health risks. We are happy to partner with the UFC on the ‘Protect Yourself’ campaign. Having athlete role models remind young New Yorkers that HIV is preventable, and about the importance of getting tested, will help spread this life-saving message,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.
Protect Yourself has two key messages:
• Get tested; know your status
• Protect yourself with safe sex practices
UFC No. 11 ranked Dennis Bermudez, who hails from Saugerties, NY and fights out of Lindenhurst, NY, will serve as a spokesman for the campaign. He said: “This is an important campaign and I’m proud to be part of it. Like all UFC athletes, I’ve taken an HIV test prior to every fight. It’s easy to do but it’s so important. Not just for the athletes but for their partners. Get tested and be protected.”
UFC No.3 ranked women’s bantamweight Miesha Tate, who is also a spokesperson, added: “When you are young, you can feel invincible. But no-one, including UFC fighters, are invincible. The UFC is asking everyone to protect themselves at all times.”
Tom Kovach, acting CEO of The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said: “We developed the "Protect Yourself..." campaign with the UFC and everyone here at the Center in Las Vegas is very proud to see our colleagues in New York add their voices to this important message. Few other groups have the ear of young people quite like UFC and their athletes do, and when they speak, under 30s listen. With the UFC in our corner, we are ready to pick a fight with HIV ignorance."
UFC said it has made a financial commitment to these New York organizations and intends to leverage its media – owned and earned – including ads in its magazines, featuring the campaign on its websites as well as getting the word out through social channels, delivering billions of impressions for the campaign to drive awareness to action.
The UFC Launches Protect Yourself Campaign
"We began a similar public awareness campaign in Nevada in partnership with The Center and I am so pleased that we are able to join with four outstanding New York institutions to launch this campaign in New York." - Lorenzo Fertitta