Feel the Burn billboards in Houston use play of politics for message

HOUSTON – A billboard with the words "Feel the Burn" off Highway 59 near the Westpark ramp is getting a lot of buzz. It looks like an ad for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, but it has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

'Feel the Bern' is a popular phrase among supporters of Sanders.

"We just took the colors and the clean lines of the message because people are connecting to that," said Raul Ramirez, of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

A change of one letter and a website listed on the sign reveals it's a marketing campaign for a very different type of sensation.

"The burning typically associated with chlamydia and gonorrhea," Ramirez said.

The foundation is the non-profit group behind the billboard. They operate a wellness clinic in Houston where they offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

"The young population are seeing that and connecting to symptoms they otherwise would never connect to STD," Ramirez said.

AHF said it's a message that's needed now more than ever. Last fall, the CDC announced cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise for the first time since 2006.

"STD is such a taboo that we want to take a friendlier approach and it's working," Ramirez said.

While the billboard inspires some giggles, AHF hopes it also inspires action.

"It's funny, it would definitely catch my attention," one person said.

"Right on, then. Get checked for STDS," another person said.

The billboards have been up for about two weeks. There are three of them in Houston. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation said they will remain posted because they're getting such a positive response.

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