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NAT responds to offensive HIV advert

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NAT criticises stigmatising German HIV advertising campaign

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, commented on the German HIV campaign ‘AIDS is a mass murderer’:

“It is very important we take HIV more seriously in Europe, but this campaign, however well intentioned, is not the way to do it.  It is over the top, misleading and harmful”

There are three main failings to the campaign:

  • Firstly, linking the risk of HIV infection to having sex with a mass murderer is immensely stigmatising of people living with HIV.  Stigma is the great barrier to an effective response to the epidemic.  It is what prevents testing, and inhibits frank discussion of HIV status and sexual risk.
  • Secondly, the campaign is inaccurate.  It makes no mention of the fact that in Europe effective treatment exists which means HIV is no longer a death sentence.  People diagnosed in time can expect nowadays a near normal life-span.
  • Thirdly, it provides no information on the posters or in the video of how to protect yourself and others from HIV infection - use a condom when having sex; do not share injecting equipment for drug use.

Effective public health campaigns can sometimes use shock tactics well - but irresponsible and incredible statements only mean that in the end people stop listening.

Notes to the editor:

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