Humor in the AIDS fight -- Whoopi Goldberg and others are trying to use laughs to raise condom awareness and use

Did you hear the one about Whoopi Goldberg turning to a camera and saying, ”Ain’t no making Whoopi without a condom”? You’re not likely to now. The federal Centers for Disease Control recently canned that idea and several others in a proposed series of ads using comedy to advocate condoms in the fight against AIDS. The subject, agency officials felt, simply wasn’t funny.

”The CDC is worried about offending people,” protests David Eng, spokesman for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. ”But we’re talking about saving lives here. Humor is a good tactic. It makes the issue more accessible to people.”

Goldberg agrees. ”It doesn’t matter how you get the information across,” she says, ”just as long as people get it.”

But when the suggested ads were tested on potential audiences, says Fred Kroger, director of the CDC’s national AIDS information and education program, ”consumers objected to the CDC trying to make light of AIDS.”

And so you probably won’t be seeing George Burns, 96, saying, ”I started using condoms when I was a young man. I think I was 72.”