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Monday, December 1, 2014

"Syphilis Explosion" Ads Jolt BART Riders

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Do I have syphilis? SEE PAGE 72! - KATE CONGER
There's an old joke about a mohel — a ritual circumciser — who decorates his storefront with clocks. When asked why clocks, he replies "What would you put in the window?" 

And, in that context, the above ads gracing Oakland BART stations make more sense. Meant to highlight the alarming rise in syphilis rates across the nation — well, what would you put in the window? 

That said, the erupting volcano motif looks, to an alarming degree, like an old Dianetics ad. "I can see why you'd say that," says Dale R. Gluth, the Bay Area regional director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the outfit behind these erupting volcano syphilis ads. The juxtaposition of health issues and a pseudoscience purveyor like Scientology is one that could give many people pause. Count Gluth among them: "Dianetics is not something that would resonate with our organization." 

So, rest assured, all this erupting volcano full of red-hot magma is meant to represent is the increasing prevalence of syphilis. Maybe that will make you feel a bit better. 

Gluth isn't yet sure if these ads are having their intended effect of steering people to to get themselves tested. The marketing numbers haven't yet come in from a campaign that's only weeks old. So, that's something to check on. Also something to check on: Do you have syphilis? 

"I want people to go get tested," Gluth says. You know the website. Avoid the magma. Hurry! 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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