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.

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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

target="_blank">www.lgbtqpoz.org.