The following images are from a safe sex campaign being run in Germany. The link also leads to a very graphic commercial that is being run.
While I agree with the tagline of this campaign, the strategy is wrong for many different reasons. Safe sex should apply to everyone and not just women. This ad purposefully shames heterosexual women for having sex, suggesting that it is their irresponsibility that has caused the spread of the aids virus. Shaming of women for being sexual is hardly new or cutting edge, it is simply patriarchy in action once again. It further excludes women that are lesbians. Yes, believe it or not, women have sex with each other.
Where are the men having sex with each other? Gay men need to have safe sex just as much as any other group and their invisibility speaks once again to the ways in which the GLBT community is devalued and created as non existent to privilege heterosexuality.
It is further disturbing that those depicted as representing AIDS are mass murderers. This was an attempt to point out how dangerous AIDS is, however; it succeeds in further demonizing those that are living with HIV/AIDS. Where is our human compassion to those that are living with this terrible disease? Even though it is well known how HIV is transferred, those that are infected with the disease still face many stigmas and are often run out of many public environments. This ad only encourages the irrational fear of those suffering with AIDS/HIV. Many are still productive members of our society and they should be treated with respect, rather than demonized and constructed as evil.
More awareness campaigns are necessary to slow the advance of AIDS but they should be sensitive to the various social groups, as well as ensure that those living with the disease are not constructed in a manner that reduces their humanity. HIV/AIDS is a terrible disease, that has caused the death of far too many and it is this, along with information on how it is transferred, that should be the main point of our discourse.