Monday, July 5, 2010

German AIDS Public Awareness Campaign

We discussed the HIV/AIDS situation in Japan in the Contemporary Issues/Globalization seminar last week. I was interested in hearing about the German situation, especially after seeing a public service poster at the bus stop near campus. Alas it was changed before I had the chance to photograph it (lesson to visual anthropologists: never put off taking that photo!). My graduate student, Anna, from the seminar was kind enough to do some research, offer comments and translations and forward visual images.

The organization that does the public service is called "Gib AIDS keine Chance" (Don't give AIDS a chance). Their main motto is "mach's mit" (Do it with it). There current series of posters is called "Liebesorte" (Love places). According to Anna, "And so the point is that one has the choice of either having sex and a good time or having sex and to risk AIDS. And of course the condom is always placed on the former."

Each poster photo is accompanied by a title. "The phrases are a little hard to translate because they're colloquial German, but all of them have some sort of sexual connotation in it somehow."

Hanging out

Living out Fantasies

Not getting to know AIDS

Rock and Rollen

Socialize - Making new contacts

Summer night dreaming

Taking a bite

Link to Mach's Mit (in German):

According to one article, HIV/AIDS rates in Germany increased by 20% in 2005.

According to a report from the Robert Koch Institute, the federal government's disease control center, 1,164 Germans were infected in the first half of 2005 with the virus. Almost 60 percent of new infections were among homosexual men. Some 45,000 of the 40 million people living with HIV around the world are German.

Christopher Knoll, a psychologist at Munich's AIDS-Hilfe, an HIV/AIDS support center, said more gay men are being infected because they no longer consider the disease a serious threat.

Link to "Less Fear of HIV is Pushing up Infection Rates Among Gay Men",,1797615,00.html

According to, rates of HIV/AIDS in western Europe have dropped slightly (as opposed to eastern Europe where rates continue to rise).

Link to European HIV and AIDS Statistics:

A more recent article claims that rates are still increasing and discusses various ad campaigns.

A new campaign to raise awareness about HIV infection uses shock tactics to get its message across. The foundation behind it says the pictures are meant to provoke in order to bring the issue of HIV back into focus.

Link to "New German HIV/AIDS Campaign Pushes the Envelope",,2426087,00.html

See also "Germany: Hitler AIDS Ad Stirs Controversy"

So it seems once again that Japan is not so culturally "unique" in terms of the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS. Germany has to be credited with so many public service announcements. My seminar students all seem dumbfounded by the lack of discourse about sexual education and HIV/AIDS in Japan. But globalization teaches us that so-called national boundaries are meaningless when it comes to illness and disease. HIV/AIDS ignore customs and immigration inspections. This is a global issue that needs a global response. Think/act globally; think/act locally.

Thanks once again, Anna, for sharing this information. And thanks to all of my students for their interest and discussion.

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