Abbott Laboratories picks Edelman for HIV campaign

CHICAGO, IL: Abbott Laboratories has hired Edelman to promote the Need2Know HIV initiative it co-launched with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago to educate people about the importance of HIV testing.

CHICAGO, IL: Abbott Laboratories has hired Edelman to promote the Need2Know HIV initiative it co-launched with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago to educate people about the importance of HIV testing.

The effort is targeting the city of Chicago, where more than 20,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS – three times the national prevalence rate. In some city neighborhoods, HIV rates have climbed 53% in recent years.

“We're a small team and Edelman is helping us execute some of our efforts by giving us more arms and legs,” said Darcy Ross, director of public affairs in Abbott's diagnostics division.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago had the idea for the campaign. Both parties say this effort differs from other HIV testing campaigns in that it highlights the importance of diagnosing the virus in its earliest stages.

Outreach strategy involves social media such as Facebook and Twitter, media outreach, and events. The effort began December 1, World AIDS Day, and continues through the month.

“Testing plays an important role in the overall fight against the disease, so the sooner someone finds out they are infected, the less likely they are to unknowingly pass it to others,” Ross said.

This is the first time the foundation has emphasized testing as opposed to prevention, according to Greg Trotter, its communications manager.

The organization worked with Abbott in the past and felt it would be a good partner on this campaign due to it being the first company to get FDA approval for an HIV diagnostic test in the 1980s, said Jonathan Briggs, chief officer of external relations at the foundation.

The campaign encourages consumers to get specific kinds of test in the event they get a preliminary positive, or to get tested again if they tested negative but know they have engaged in risky behavior.

“Imagine you're at a festival and they have onsite HIV testing using an oral swab. If the result is positive, people need to know that's only a preliminary positive and has to be confirmed with a blood test,” Briggs explained.

In 2003, Edelman was hired by Viacom to provide PR support for a multimillion-dollar media campaign called "Know HIV/AIDS," aimed at educating youth and minorities about the disease, with a focus on prevention and testing.

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