UFC and The Center fight HIV

The toughest athletes in the world remind fans to
“PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES”

A clever play on words for a serious subject, the UFC is
partnering with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern
Nevada aka “The Center” to raise awareness about HIV,
specifically for young people under 30.

The 1980’s was the decade of discovery for the Human
Immunodeficiency virus, and the 90’s was a call to action,
which made great progress. Between breakthroughs in anti-viral
drugs and a sustained educational plan mixed with widespread media
attention, infection rates fell significantly and safe sex became
the thoughtful Brazilian jiu-jitsu-like self-defense to ensure
healthy future generations.

Sadly, it’s almost as if the fight against HIV was thought
to be a won battle. The 2000’s brought about a complacency
where there once was vigilance and the youth of today are gravely
ill-informed about the disease. The Center for Disease Control and
Prevention used terms like “shocking”,
“astonishing”, and “unacceptable” when
illustrating the ignorance of young Americans about HIV and AIDS.
Even more shocking, in 2012, half of the 50,000 Americans infected
with HIV were under 30.

That’s why the UFC and The Center are targeting a spinning
heel kick comeback by launching “Protect Yourself At All
Times”.

Octagon COO Ike Lawrence Epstein spoke about how the UFC’s
connection with the young demographic in question worldwide will be
used to educate and help keep them safe.

“As someone who grew up in the 1980s and saw the virus
beaten back with education in the 1990s, I was stunned to learn
from our friends at The Center that HIV is still having such a
dramatic impact on young people,” said Epstein. “No
other sport reaches the under 35 demographic like the UFC does and
the UFC felt a duty to try and do something about this situation.
It gives me great pride to announce the UFC will be partnering with
The Center, LBGTQ+ and other organizations for a project we are
calling ‘Protect Yourself At All Times’. This will be a
local, national and ultimately international campaign designed to
educate the UFC’s vast core audience of under 35s about the
realities of HIV.”

As for The Center’s CEO, Bob Elkins explains how HIV has
evolved from a concern for a minority of people to the majority and
with that the UFC can assist in getting the word out like
organizations did decades ago.


Liz Carmouche joins the UFC in support of raising awareness
for HIV

“HIV stopped being a ‘gay issue’ long ago but,
unfortunately, it has now very much become a ‘young
issue’,” tells Elkins. “The jarring fact is that
young gay men are becoming infected at a much higher rate. The lack
of both awareness and accessible information for teenagers and
young adults is truly frightening. It’s like the 1990s never
happened in terms of education and public awareness. In the UFC, we
have the perfect partner to fight this ignorance, and we thank them
for joining us in this battle.”

Elkins speaks not only as a CEO, but as a positive example of
someone who has personally fought the disease since contracting the
virus 27 years ago. “Today, my viral load is virtually
undetectable, thanks to my doctors and the meds,” adds Elkins
who originally believed the virus to be a “death
sentence”, but has been winning the war with the help of
anti-retroviral treatment. “But through education and medical
advances we began to fight back against the disease. Living with
HIV is manageable, but we cannot allow advancements to take away
our focus on preventing new infections through public awareness and
education.”

 

Protect Yourself At All Times has two key messages:

· Get tested; know your status

· Protect yourself with safe sex practices

UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin and #5 ranked UFC
women’s bantamweight Liz Carmouche will serve as
spokespersons for this campaign. “I had 15 fights in the UFC
Octagon during my career, and before each and every one of them, I
had a HIV test,” asserts Griffin who in retirement asked to
take on a charity czar-like position for the UFC as the former
light-heavyweight champ became involved and enjoyed participating
in community outreach work outside of the cage. “I’m
encouraging everybody to show themselves and their partners the
same respect I showed my opponents by getting tested and protecting
themselves at all times.”

As for Carmouche, who accepted the “Corporation of the
Year” for the UFC from “The Center” on Sunday
night, she added that being young and strong makes one forget the
dangers that are out there. “There’s a feeling of
invincibility that comes with being young, with being fit and the
prime of your life,” adds Carmouche who was the first openly
gay fighter to do many things inside the Octagon like fight for a
title in it and headline a pay-per-view. “But I learned when
I was in the US Marines just like I’ve learned as a UFC
fighter, no-one is invincible, and that you have to project
yourself at all times.”

Protect Yourself At All Times is in training and will
begin heavy sparring during the lead-up to the main event World
AIDS Day on December 1st, which will include:

· The UFC will fully support The Center’s LGBTQ+
programme, which offers free HIV tests to the wider Las Vegas
community

· UFC athletes and personalities visiting centers
nationwide who offer free HIV tests and educational initiatives

· The UFC will be creating public service announcements
which will be distributed across its powerful media platforms

· The UFC will also be donating promotional inventory
to the campaign, beginning with a full-page ad in next
month’s UFC 360 magazine, and ask its partners to donate
similar space to raise issue awareness.

For more information on The Center’s efforts with
LGBTQ+ visit
www.lgbtqpoz.org.