We are 5 days into 2016. 2016, which means we're now in the
second half of the decade. But we're still tied to a different
decade--the decade when HIV and AIDS first dominated the news with
fears about contraction and death from this terrifying new disease.
It was the 1980s, and we didn't know what we know now. We didn't
know that new treatment options would mean that people would be
able to live long and relatively healthy lives with HIV. We didn't
know how perfectly safe it is to hug or kiss someone with HIV. We
didn't know that 30 years later, we would be talking less about
death rates and more about a completely different--and yet still
tragic--aspect of HIV: stigma.
The fact that people with HIV often live with stigma and
prejudice regarding the disease is not surprising. There remains
mystery about the disease, and, let's face it, unless you are
directly affected by the disease, you're probably not working too
hard to learn more or to dispel any
myths about HIV or AIDS. And that's a shame.
But among continued stigma and prejudice has arisen a desire to
change the way people think about HIV and AIDS, and I was thrilled
to see a campaign taking on the issue of HIV stigma. Ogilvy Brasil last year
ad for the NGO Life Support Group with the goal of, "…changing
how people think about HIV by putting the virus right in front of
The campaign features posters, each with a drop of blood and the
following text:"My measurements are 40 by 60 centimeters. I was
printed on high brightness paper. And my weight is 250 grams. I'm
just like any other poster. Except for one thing: I'm HIV positive.
It's exactly what you've just read. I'm living with the virus. At
this point you may be taking a step back, wondering if I offer any
The posters are meant to make the reader take stock of how
they feel--about this poster and yes, about people who are HIV
positive. Displayed on the streets of São Paulo, the posters
were seen by hundreds of people, and, according to the ad,
something really cool began to happen. "People reached out and
touched the poster, going straight for the drop of dried blood."
It's hard to say why, but in watching the ad, it's easy to see that
many people were moved by the posters and were even more so when
they learned that the people from the ad were actually there,
watching the reactions of the readers.
There remains no cure for HIV/AIDS, and the World Health
Organization estimates that approximately 35 million people
around the world are living with HIV. Clinical researchers are
continuing to study and develop new treatment options for the
disease. While our public health counterparts work to stop the
spread of the disease itself, as health communicators our part of
the fight it to continue to produce ads like this one from Ogilvy
Brasil and help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS stigma, because as the
ad so poignantly says, "If prejudice is an illness, information is
To view the ad, click on the image below.