"I've had seven fights in the UFC's Octagon. Before all of them, I took an HIV test. Show yourself and your partner the same respect I showed my opponent. Get tested and protect yourself."
The UFC has teamed up with New York's Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center to raise awareness of the importance of HIV testing and safe sex.
UFC women's welterweight Miesha Tate and UFC featherweight Dennis Bermudez are the faces of a new campaign called “Protect Yourself.”
“No other sport reaches young demographics like UFC, and I feel like young people might listen to UFC fighters like ourselves,” said Tate at a Manhattan news conference.
“I think it would be an injustice to have a position to be a role model for young people and not do something with it.”
ZUFFA CEO Lorenzo Fertitta explains the program's origins.
"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," said Fertitta.
“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."
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.
However, over the last 15 years complacency has set in, 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.
Protect Yourself has two key messages:
• Get tested; know your status.
•Protect yourself with safe sex practices.
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.