The Beauty of AIDS Intervention
October 14, 2010 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985–2010... (possibly NSFW)

Essays in accompaniment

Slideshow (I'm having trouble bringing up the main site's slideshow so here's a link to's).
posted by artof.mulata (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All of the posters can also be viewed at the Essays in accompaniment link (which is working for me; YMMV).

Fantastic. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 8:53 PM on October 14, 2010

My favorite HIV campaign was by Zelda Rubinstein. She was years ahead of the rest, and won a place in my heart when I learned about it.
posted by hippybear at 9:05 PM on October 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Those are amazing, all of them. But I'll admit that I teared up reading the Zelda Rubinstein link just above. HIV prevention work now isn't easy and is still far from mainstream, but I am awed at the love expressed by the people who stepped up in the early days.
posted by Forktine at 9:26 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am awed at the love expressed by the people who stepped up in the early days.

To expand on this: I had the chance recently to talk with someone who had stepped up when no one else would, back in the 1980s in a conservative area. Back then, it meant helping people deal with death. Period. No miracle cures. No antivirals. No happy endings. And, about as far from New York City and San Francisco as you can get in the continental US, it meant figuring out what to do when none of the funeral homes would handle AIDS deaths, and when the local hospital turned people away, and when families didn't know how to react. It meant dealing with all the indignities of a stigmatized disease and a very ugly death, without any of the public support we have now.

I'm a big macho kind of guy, and I'll straight up admit it that talking about this with him I cried like a baby. I'm not afraid to say that I couldn't do that work. I can help now, when there are good medical options and an entire federal apparatus that provides support. Back then? There's no way I could have done what they did.

So I love to look back at the posters from the early days, because it is for me a window into a different era. I feel like I have a small sense of how much bravery and love was needed to do that when no one else would.
posted by Forktine at 9:57 PM on October 14, 2010

I love the one that says "Being young, Maori, gay, and aware." As far as anthems go, that beats "Young, Gifted and Black" six ways to Sunday.
posted by hermitosis at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2010

yes,Some times We should focus on the HIV for our health
posted by jacky2012 at 11:18 PM on October 14, 2010

Some of these are great - the Maori one especially. I'm not a huge fan of the ribbon ones though - it's too abstract, doesn't include any call to action, and it seems like it is AIDS activism targeted at AIDS activists. Plus, a ribbon alone now signifies something more like "bring out autistic troops back from the AIDS vs breast cancer war". Was the ribbon originally only used to signify HIV?
posted by fermezporte at 5:57 AM on October 15, 2010

Was the ribbon originally only used to signify HIV?

I remember yellow ribbons being widely displayed during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979-80 based on the song "Tie A Yellow Ribbon "Round The Old Oak Tree" from 1973, but a glance at Wikipedia indicates that yellow ribbons have been used by women awaiting the return of a loved one going back 4 centuries. I have always assumed that all the other ribbons were based on that source.
posted by TedW at 6:10 AM on October 15, 2010

I feel like I have a small sense of how much bravery and love was needed to do that when no one else would.

If you get a chance, you should see a documentary call We Were Here: Voices From the AIDS Years in San Francisco. It's interviews with some people who lived through it. I saw it at the Castro theater during the GLBT film fest earlier this year. The theater was packed. At one point during the film, when a man is talking about how his lover at the time got sick, someone in the audience burst into audible sobs, and then pretty much everyone lost it.

The thing is, too, don't diss your past hypothetical self. Maybe you wouldn't have been able to deal. But a lot of people stepped up not because they were brave, or defiant, but because things needed to be done. It was very simple, in a weird way: someone you love gets sick, and so you take care of them. There was no one else to do it, and so the friends and lovers and ex-lovers of people who got sick did it, because that's what you do when you care about someone.

The film was still a work in progress when it screened here, and the makers were still hunting for funding. But it's making the film festival rounds, so keep an eye out for it and see it if you can.
posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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