The Health and Human Services Department said yesterday it is releasing a series of radio and television ads about AIDS, but the public service announcements will not mention condoms or homosexuality.
The 30- and 60-second spots, featuring HHS Secretary Otis R. Bowen, will be available to 900 television and 11,000 radio stations nationwide. Some radio spots will be in Spanish and aimed at minorities, which have been hit especially hard by acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
The two television ads can be aired immediately, the department said. One spot advertises free copies of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's report and publishes the toll-free number for the National AIDS hot line: 1-800-342-AIDS. The second television ad explains how the AIDS virus is transmitted -- usually through sexual contact, the sharing of intravenous drug needles or from mother to fetus.
None of the radio or TV spots repeats Koop's advice that condoms can reduce the chance that the virus will be sexually transmitted.
Instead, Bowen advises listeners to call the AIDS hot line and says, "The best defense against AIDS is abstinence for young unmarrieds, faithfulness for those who are married and, of course, avoidance of IV drug use by all."
Bowen said the announcements aimed at minorities are especially important, "because black and Hispanic Americans are carrying a disproportionate share of the burden of AIDS."
The department said about 25 percent of people with AIDS are black and 14 percent are Hispanic, although blacks represent only 12 percent of the American population and Hispanics 7 percent.
Almost 66 percent of the people with AIDS are homosexual or bisexual men with no history of intravenous drug abuse, but neither the television nor radio spots mention the word "homosexual" or are aimed at the high-risk group.