There are stereotypes associated with diagnostic labels that stigmatize individual. For World AIDS Day AIDES and TBWA\Paris released a series of sensual photo ads named “Revelation” in order to protect human right on the pursuit of happiness.

One can hardly think of anything worse than being predefined by their physical appearance or state of health. In the first case, you face lookism, in the other, you find yourself pressed by ablism. Chances also are you’ll be rejected as physically inferior.


AIDES Is Here To Help

The good news is that HIV-positive people under treatment gradually become totally safe in a sense that they can no longer transmit the virus, as one more study shows. In a nutshell, having an undetectable viral load greatly lowers one’s chances of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner or via a shared needle. Still, it is a torture for these people to disburden tainted reputation and to find a trusting partner.

Aurélien Beaucamp, president of French advocacy campaign AIDES, thinks it necessary to bring this piece of information to notice. “What weighs most on the quality of life of HIV-positive people today is not the virus. It’s the daily discriminations they have to suffer.”

N.B. Founded in 1984, AIDES is the largest non-profit organization in France dealing with HIV issues. Why AIDES, not AIDS? – you might ask. It’s a play-on-words: aides is the plural form for help in French.

According to AIDES’s latest data, 86 percent of HIV-positive people tested and currently taking treatments in France have an undetectable viral load which makes it almost improbable for them to pass the virus on. But they still live single. Statistically, half the discriminations are of a sexual character.

"Revelation" By World AIDS Day

"Revelation" By World AIDS Day

"Revelation" By World AIDS Day

"Revelation" By World AIDS Day


Revealing Human Condition

For World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1st this Thursday, AIDES in collaboration with TBWA\Paris issued a series of ads named “Revelation”. These are saucy and at the same time highly aesthetic print ads that transmit all that an HIV-positive individual has to give to his/her beloved.

Two (diving and parachute) instructors, a male ballet teacher and 1st prize winner of the Music Academy… We can see couples dancing, diving, playing the piano in a meditative act, even parachuting – all together and naked. One partner on each picture is HIV-positive… The power lying at the core of this idea is what these people actually CAN pass on is a precious piece of knowledge, not a virus.

Photos were elaborated by Mathieu César, a 28-year-old renowned French photographer and iconoclast, as he calls himself. His alluring black-and-white works include those of Natalie Portman, Tilda SwintonAmy Winehouse and Léa Seydoux. Besides, among César’s clients are Louis Vuitton, Harper’s Bazaar and British Vogue, fashion-market biggest sharks.

The red thread passing through the photos takes a form of a tagline: “HIV-positive people on treatment have a lot to pass on. But not HIV.”


Clash of Clans

There is no wonder that this line has got abundant feedback, but to some people’s surprise, it was the strongest in Béziers, a strict conservative region in the south of France. A response campaign didn’t keep the audience waiting. It portrayed a dominant class (i.e., heterosexual and white) couple dressed to the nines and combed elegantly. Its catchword, translated in English, announces, “Loving one another. Giving to one another. Giving everything,” joined with the tagline, “Love should be protected.” It ends with a remake of the French national motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” – but with “fidelity” instead of  “fraternity.”

Robert Ménard holding on to far-right politics is the mayor of Béziers, hence, the person standing for the town’s voice. Two months ago his words on what it means to be French appeared on French TV (“in the words of Charles De Gaulle, being European, white and Catholic”). This sounds absurd, taking into consideration the fact that 91 percent of children in some French schools are Muslim. Fairly enough, he was blamed for the hate speech by an international anti-racist organization.

What we’ve seen seems like an eternal fight between two hostile camps. And who knows, maybe this campaign is saying its word to stop it.

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