Health

New meningitis billboards roll out in Los Angeles, targeting gay and bisexual men

Photo of a speaker at the AHF meningitis vaccine
Photo of a speaker at the AHF meningitis vaccine "Just a Prick" billboard press conference in Hollywood, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Giant billboards sprinkled along Sunset Boulevard aren't uncommon, but some that are going up might be a bit different from the usual plastered advertisements. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced a new billboard Wednesday that will be displayed throughout L.A. to encourage the public to receive free meningitis vaccinations. 

Foundation President Michael Weinstein told KPCC the organization feels Los Angeles County has been slow to acknowledge the issue, glossing over it. The billboards are a response to that, as well as an attempt to spread the word about the disease. 

“For the last several years, we’ve known that there’s a phenomenon going on where there’s a disproportionate share of the cases of meningitis are gay and bisexual men,” he said.

In 2016, L.A. County has reported 13 cases of meningitis; seven were among men who have sex with men. None of the cases were fatal. 

“We don’t want to alarm people, because there aren’t that many cases, but we see a phenomenon that’s unexplained and therefore we have to jump on it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Weinstein said.  

Not enough people know that the vaccination is recommended, he added, and believes the organization's past billboards addressing other diseases have been highly effective when it comes to raising awareness.  

“I think our billboards have become cultural icons in Los Angeles. We’ve been running them for many years and they’re very provocative,” he added.

Weinstein said people can visit FreeMeningitisVax.org to see where they can get a free vaccinations. 

In addition to the "Just a Prick" billboards at the following locations, five more will be erected next week, he said.