Canada: Edgy Ads to Promote AIDS Awareness Aim to Be Bold to Attract Eyes of Youth
January 15, 2003
A racy government ad campaign to promote AIDS awareness among Quebec youth seeks to send the message that love can be a double-edged sword.Adapted from:
The first ad shows the silhouette of a man and a woman, embracing in one of the more common positions of the Kama Sutra, the whole scene framed within a razor blade. The second shows a long syringe, also in black and white, enclosed in a double-edged blade, and a small Quebec flag in the bottom right corner. The third ad shows two men, heads pointed skyward in utter ecstasy. With the slogan "AIDS is still around," the triptych does not leave much to the imagination.
AIDS activists welcomed the effort to put safe sex back on the agenda and in people's minds. It seems it's just not "in" to use condoms, and young people are reluctant to get tested for AIDS and other STDs, spreading the virus further, activists said. "They think it's a thing of the past, or only for older people," said Robert Rousseau, managing director of Action Sero Zero, an AIDS prevention program.
The Omega Cohort, a study continuing since 1996, has been tracking about 1,000 men ages 16-30 who engage in risky sexual behaviors in Montreal. In 1996, 17 percent of them did not use condoms. But by 2002, that proportion had increased to 22 percent.
Bold as the campaign ads may be, they alone will not shock youngsters into changing their ways, said Alain Bonnes, volunteer coordinator for the Comite des Personnes Atteintes du VIH. "There has been nothing on the subject for so long so it's good to remind people sex can be dangerous. But the campaign has to be supported by other interventions, especially in schools," Bonnes said.
The ads will appear in selected restaurant and bar bathrooms, and in French and English weekly newspapers, until Feb. 9. The government has also prepared two French radio ads.
01.15.03; Catherine Solyom