Ministry axes costly safe-sex video clip

Health Ministry chief has permanently removed video clip produced for NIS 450,000 for World AIDS Day from website and Facebook page.

By
December 16, 2014 03:42
4 minute read.
World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Arnon Afek has permanently removed from its website and Facebook page a video clip produced for NIS 450,000 for World AIDS Day by his deputy, Yair Amikam, that Afek described as in “very bad taste” and others as “pornographic.”

The video, initiated by Amikam and produced with the Government Advertising Office (GAO) – whose NIS 450,000 price tag, video industry insiders have said, is severely inflated – uses a series of phallic images and an actor throwing off his clothes, looking at his girlfriend passionately, and jumping into bed to have sexual relations with her.

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Afek, along with ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev, were not shown the expensive, minute-long video before its release to the public.

Unlike his predecessor, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who used to vet all such ministry advertising campaigns, Afek and Lev did not view it at any stage before its release.

Only when angry viewers complained and demanded that it be ditched did the two order its removal from both the ministry’s and GAO websites.

The newspaper Globes voluntarily deleted the video clip from its website upon deciding that it was too objectionable to appear before the public.

The removal of the clip comes at a time when the ministry’s public committee for recommending the expansion of the basket of health services is deliberating how to add lifesaving and life-extending drugs to the basket. For example, a single drug costing tens of thousands of shekels can wipe out hepatitis C in an estimated 100,000 Israeli carriers – most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union – who are otherwise at risk for developing fatal liver cancer, but the committee has a budget of only NIS 300 million.

Asked to comment on the clip, Afek told The Jerusalem Post on Monday: “It is bad taste. I would not have made it or put it on the websites. But Amikam, and ministry tuberculosis and AIDS department head Dr. Daniel Chemtob approved it.

The video is aimed at the younger generation, to explain to them that to prevent the transmission of HIV, they should use a condom.

“I am not the target audience,” said the pathologist and medical administrator. “It was done professionally, but it was not my taste. I dealt with it the minute I learned of it and removed it because I thought it would insult some of the public.”

When the man says he doesn’t like using condoms, the girlfriend says, “No problem.

But then you’re invited to...” and the video shows him busy cleaning a flute by rubbing it between his legs; playing with a serpent in front of a backgammon game; sandpapering a log held between his legs; pushing on a swing an erect salami; massaging the back of a turtle that looks as if it is having an orgasm; freeing Willy the killer whale who flies overhead; rubbing a magic lantern, pulling a giant carrot out of the ground; whipping a monkey; wrestling with a unicorn; and finally, freeing up a blockage in a rubber hose held in front of his body that gushes out water.

“Without a condom,” says the girlfriend, “it won’t happen.”

Asked to comment, Dr. Shlomo Maayan, a longtime former head of the AIDS center at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem who now heads the infectious disease unit at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, told the Post that Amikam’s video clip was “a waste of money.”

Also asked to comment, Amikam – who is the ministry’s deputy-general for information – said that before the clip was eliminated from Facebook, “it received 300,000 ‘likes’” and that “if it saves one person from contracting AIDS, it was worth it.”

However, Amikam offered no proof that the clip in fact persuaded young people to use condoms. In the past, when asked why his office does not produce public service ads against smoking, which kills some 10,000 Israelis a year, the deputy director-general has said his office “has no budget for it.”

Amikam, 67, is retiring from his post in July.

The State Comptroller’s Office spokesman asked to be sent material on the film clip.

In other health news, the ministry announced that Afek had unanimously been named a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s executive committee in the field of health for 2015. The ministry said its director-general “will take a central part in designing and setting health policy and will represent Israel in the committee.

“It is a badge of honor for the Israeli health system, which is praised throughout the world,” Afek said of the appointment. “I intend to deepen the connection between our health system and other OECD countries, and I thank all the members for their faith in me.”


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