AHF Co-Opts Sanders Message

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It is often said Bernie Sanders’ message hits home with young Americans.


The AIDS Healthcare Foundation certainly hopes this is true. The Los Angeles-based HIV/AIDS medical provider launched an ad campaign this spring to encourage people to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The campaign closely resembles the logo of Sanders' Presidential campaign even using the socialist’s popular rallying cry, “Feel the Burn!”


“Senator Sanders’ powerful message resonates with a lot of Americans, particularly young people,” Jason Farmer, senior creative director for AHF told The Hill. “We hope that our light hearted – but highly important – billboard campaign for STD testing will have as well.”


In South Florida, the campaign is easily spotted on billboards and public benches. Michael Lockwood, a pledged Sanders delegate from Fort Lauderdale, said he has no problem with AHF’s tactics.


“I think they are using it (Sanders logo) for an appropriate reason,” Lockwood told SFGN at the May meeting of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Democratic Club meeting. “They are using it for educational purposes and to benefit the community. I think everyone on the campaign supports reducing STDs and AIDS.”


Members of the Sanders campaign met with HIV/AIDS activists on Wednesday evening in California. In published reports, activists claim Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont, intends to highlight the importance of access to “generic” drugs.


“Bernie has always believed there should be an expansion of generic drugs throughout the world so poor people can get the drugs they need,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told the Washington Blade. “He has for years taken on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry which had resulted in unnecessary death and suffering in many parts of the world. As president, he will fight for a major expansion of generic drug production. He hopes the Democratic convention in Philadelphia agrees with that.”


Flooding the health care market with life-saving discount drugs doesn’t sound so evil to most, but for Martin Shkreli and pharmaceutical companies, like Turing Inc., it cuts into their bottom line. Shkreli, known across the social media world as “Pharma Bro,” donated $2,700 to Sanders last year only to have the candidate forward the funds to a Washington, D.C. health care clinic specializing in HIV/AIDS treatment.


Sanders and Shkreli have sparred online and in the press over economic philosophies, hedge funds and the cost of prescription drugs. Shkreli was arrested last December by the F.B.I. for securities fraud and is free on bail.


Sanders, meanwhile, trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Party’s U.S. Presidential nomination. California’s primary, the last major contest before the party’s national convention, is June 7.


Shkreli disclosed his thoughts of Sanders’ chances to catch Clinton Monday on Twitter.


“time to shut up and take the L,” Shkreli tweeted.


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