Free love at Coachella? Organizers not happy with billboard touting free STD testing


Coachella organizers have called for the removal of a billboard near the music festival site advertising free sexually transmitted disease testing services, the organization that paid for the billboard said.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation put the billboard up on the westbound 10 Freeway on March 26 and received a request to remove it by March 28. The organization said in a news release that the billboard will remain up during the next few weeks for both festival weekends despite opposition.

The billboard reads “Catch more than vibes?” and features a photo of the popular music and arts festival Coachella, held annually in Indio. The billboard directs viewers to a link where they can find out more about free STD testing.

“It doesn’t help anyone to bury their heads in the desert sand and pretend people aren’t having sex,” said foundation president and co-founder Michael Weinstein. “We want everyone to use condoms and practice safer sex, but if they don’t, we also want them to know where to get STD tested easily and for free.”

Goldenvoice, the company that organizes and promotes Coachella, did not respond to a request for comment. Jason Farmer, vice president of marketing for the foundation, said an attorney for Goldenvoice’s parent company requested the billboard’s removal.

The attorney claimed the billboard represented a copyright infringement and asked for the billboard to be taken down within 48 hours, Farmer said, or threatened to take legal action. Farmer also said the attorney may have felt the billboard cast a negative light on the festival.

Farmer said he’s not aware of any legal action taken against the foundation as of Wednesday. The owners of the billboard also don’t plan on taking the design down, he said.

The billboard doesn’t name the festival, but the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s news release describes it as “Coachella-themed.” The billboard is designed to reach festival goers as they leave the Indio area.

Coachella, happening this year on the weekends April 12-14 and April 19 -21, attracts an average of 125,000 daily visitors and was first held in 1999.



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