Why fear-based STD prevention PSAs are a bad idea

Recently, I started to pay attention to the sorts of messages being sent in STD prevention PSAs. I kept finding examples of ads that portrayed people with STDs as monsters or murderers, and with this video, I explain why this is not only cruel, but detrimental to health education goals.

This is my first video, so please be kind.


  1. Hey Leah,
    I just stumbled upon your site early in the morning while looking for like minded individuals. I must admit, after reading some of your articles I’m a little less cynical. πŸ™‚
    I do have one argument directed towards your “Why fear-based STD prevention PSAs are a bad idea” video. You have a valid point, fear isn’t always the greatest motivator. Myself being one of those people who came too close to the possibility of contracting an STI I understand how these types of ads could promote the wrong type of response to people with STIs. However, I feel that fear and shock is necessary to inform and educate those who AREN’T interested in listening. Prior to my incident I was unconcerned with the facts concerning STIs. It wasn’t until I was shocked by the overall STI screen experience and on, that I realized the seriousness associated with not knowing.
    Think back to your high school years, if you had Health Class you’ll probably remember it was rather poor in its overall message. I remember my lessons revolving around, “have safe sex” vs. “abstain from sex”. Not to mention the fact my school system was stupid enough to limit the Health class requirements to only 1 year vs. all years. So the result, students who snickered and giggled every time the teacher uttered the words penis, vagina, anus, or testes. The overall message wasn’t conveyed because the students were all about being “cool”. And let’s face it, condoms create a world with responsibility and at age 14, 15, 16 responsibility will never equal “cool”.
    Therefore, I will argue when displaying a lover pulling out a gun and shooting point blank their sexual partner may make those infected feel depressed or horrible. Those who don’t have an STI may actual stop and think, “Whoah? Where did that come from? Can STIs really kill people?”
    And you do make a point about the STI ad with Hitler; I would agree that that ad was a little excessive and unrealistic- especially cause Eva Braun was a blonde (just a little joke there). Still the Horror film ad (at the end) and the first ad really caught my attention in that they display something relatable to teens. Through horror, something that the “Saw” franchise has been promoting for the past 6 years, fictitious emotions often times associated with the popular kids, and violence that is often found in high school settings these two ads would of allowed teens to relate their life to the lives of the victims. Relation is key in education of the uninterested.

    PS. Please excuse the pseudonym, but I’ve always intended to give examples from my past to help educate my (blog) followers and I would prefer it not to be know who I am. πŸ™‚


  2. Thanks for your comments. I think perhaps the next discussion that needs to happen is… what ARE the most effective ways to spread STD awareness in a way that does not contribute to the negative stigma associated with STDs?


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