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Common Encourages HIV Testing

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Hip-Hop artist Common

is joining with Viacom Inc. and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to present

a series of motivational public service advertisements (PSA’s) encouraging

HIV testing as part of the KNOW HIV/AIDS campaign.

The "Knowing

is Beautiful" PSAs, which launched in June, seek to educate young people

on the importance of HIV testing, especially groups most at risk.

"It was really

important for me to be involved with a campaign that is raising awareness of

HIV/AIDS. I had an uncle succumb to HIV, so I’ve personally felt the impact

of the disease,” Common said. “It’s important for everyone to be

aware that this disease doesn’t just affect a single race or sexual orientation.”

With the aid of

Common, who narrates scenes of individuals in intimate or reflective moments,

the campaign hopes to inspire high-risk groups to get tested.

The characters

wear a small adhesive bandage that indicates an HIV test, and Common’s original

spoken word poetry serves to reveal the empowerment of being tested for the

disease.

Likewise, outdoor

billboards stress the assurance of knowing one’s HIV status by displaying Common

with a small adhesive bandage to show that he got tested.

Radio listeners

can hear Common’s powerful message through recorded PSAs that feature similar

scenes.

“The ‘Knowing

is Beautiful’ campaign was especially important to me because I’m a true advocate

of taking care of and loving ourselves, and that’s really what this campaign

is about,” Common said.

Renowned spoken

word artists Black Ice and Bassey Ikipi also contribute their voices to the

cause.

In addition to

billboard, bus and bus shelter advertising in large markets, the "Knowing

is Beautiful" PSAs will run through the Viacom networks CBS, UPN, MTV,

VH1, BET and Comedy Central among others.

"This newest

evolution of the campaign draws on an icon of hip-hop culture tom powerfully

communicate the initiative’s lifesaving messages and ensure that they resonate

with communities that are most adversely affected," Sumner Redstone, Chairman

and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, said in a statement.

More information

is available at the KNOW HIV/AIDS site http://www.knowhivaids.org.

Common is currently

working on his new album BE with producer Kanye West, scheduled for

a spring release in 2005.

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