Macklemore has shifted the rapper paradigm with his chart-topping, #1 single "Thrift Shop" that humorously glamorizes second-hand shopping over the usual rap-star bling. Now AIDS Healthcare Foundation is offering its own game-changer: using the humor of the music video parody trend to spread HIV/AIDS awareness along with the laughs.
With the help of celebrities like Pauley Perrette, Verne Troyer, Kat Graham, Annika Noni Rose - who make chuckle-worthy guest cameos -- our "Thrift Shop" parody video encourages everyone to shop at or donate to Out of the Closet Thrift Stores (which benefits AIDS Healthcare Foundation), pick up some free condoms and get tested for HIV because not knowing your status is a "hella don't!"
Why try to tackle such a serious subject as HIV and AIDS through such a light-hearted medium? One reason: Young people ages 13 to 24 account for 26 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. Reaching youth with messages about the importance of condom use and getting tested for HIV is a must if we are going to bring infection rates down.
One of the key themes of our "Thrift Shop" video is condom use. Condoms are 96 percent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and many other sexually-transmitted diseases. With sex education in schools severely hampered by abstinence-only policies and a ban on advertising condoms on TV, where are young people accessing facts about safer sex and condom use? In "Thrift Shop," we hope to be supplying some important information, as well as normalizing the use of condoms to prevent STDs.
Another key element to the video is encouraging everyone to know his or her HIV status. The free HIV testing offered at Out of the Closet is free, quick and accessible to everyone. You don't have to go to a doctor's office or an unfriendly government-run clinic. And, you can get a test without getting lectured or judged. We think that convenience and the no-judgment factor that is expressed in the video will encourage young people to get tested -- at Out of the Closet, or wherever they choose.
Finally, AIDS Healthcare Foundation also believes that a message of contributing to a global cause resonates with youth who intuitively understand the value of choosing to spend their dollars at a business that gives back.
Although many people are familiar with Out of the Closet Thrift Stores (the bright pink facades that dot the city are hard to miss), not everyone knows that all funds earned through Out of the Closet Thrift Stores -- and the AHF Pharmacy sites adjacent to some stores -- go into AIDS Healthcare Foundation's treatment and prevention programs in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, 96 cents of every dollar earned at Out of the Closet and at AHF Pharmacy goes right back into providing services to people in need in the U.S. Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.
As the main character in our parody says: "saving money, saving lives, makes me hella happy!"
We think that's a statement that fans of Macklemore and fans of Out of the Closet can all get behind.
Follow Lori Yeghiayan Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/loriyeg