Poster power: A collection of AIDS awareness campaigns from around the world
07 June 2011
Over the course of the AIDS epidemic, countries have promoted HIV awareness and safe sex through a variety of media, such as public service announcements, glossy magazine spreads, newspaper advertisements, radio programmes and the Internet. A new exhibition, now on display at the Art Directors Club in New York City, offers a glimpse at one of the most commonly-used visual media in the history of HIV campaigns: the poster.
“The poster as a medium is cheap and easy to produce locally, so it has been an effective way to reach specific groups with HIV messages,” said Elizabeth Resnick, curator of the exhibition Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters, at a launch event on 6 June attended by more than 300 members of New York’s art and design community as well as representatives from international organizations and civil society.
Graphic Intervention presents more than 150 posters from around the world covering a diverse array of artistic styles and languages. The posters address a wide range of themes in national HIV responses, including HIV transmission, condom use, access to HIV treatment and care, AIDS-related stigma and gender inequality.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Egyptian actor and activist Amr Waked, a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa, called for a revolution in his region’s response to HIV—similar to the Arab Spring movement that has swept across Egypt and neighbouring countries in recent months.
It is time to harness the same energy and leadership among youth to bring a better world for people affected by HIV and AIDS, a world that respects human rights for all
Amr Waked, actor and UNAIDS Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa
“I saw firsthand how youth unified their efforts and succeeded in the revolution as one!” said Mr Waked, who joined the demonstrations earlier this year in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. “It is time to harness the same energy and leadership among youth to bring a better world for people affected by HIV and AIDS, a world that respects human rights for all,” he added.
Graphic Intervention draws on the extensive international AIDS poster archive of James Lapides, a Boston-based collector, along with posters donated to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. “The posters are a way of remembering those who have died due to AIDS—a graphic quilt of a different kind,” says Lapides, in an essay published on the exhibition web site. “The poster should be celebrated for its central role in promoting awareness, saving lives, raising donations, influencing the public debate and speaking out in the face of this terrifying global disease,” he adds.
A selection of posters from the Graphic Intervention exhibit have been reproduced in OUTLOOK 30, a new publication from UNAIDS commemorating 30 years of the AIDS epidemic.
Graphic Intervention will be on display during the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, a gathering of global leaders from 8-10 June 2011 that is expected shape the future course of the global response to AIDS.
UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS
Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, and 10 years since the landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the world has come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS from 8–10 June 2011 in New York. Member States are expected to adopt a new Declaration that will reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response.