Just where you were when you first saw the 'Grim Reaper' ads warning us of the danger of AIDS.
It's the 20th anniversary of that ad and now the experts want a new campaign. You can read it here http://www.ssonet.com.au/display.asp?ArticleID=6392 (nice work Harley) I think if they've got $10 million for this, it should be put towards sex education in schools. That ad certainly put AIDS in the minds of every person who saw it but quite a number of gay men think that instead of demonising the virus, it demonised them and they had to live with even greater prejudice. According to Paul Kidd, editor of 'Positive Living' people became aware there was a disease they could get from gay men and that created a division between the gay and straight worlds. On the other hand that fear generated a great deal of money for research into the virus.
Australia handled the epidemic a lot better than America ever did, with less hysteria and lower infection rates.
The ad which screened at the same time as the reaper was, to me, more effective in showing how easily the virus could spread. I don't remember the exact wording but it had two people in bed and the voice over asked 'Do you know who you slept with last night?' The camera then panned over a number of beds with couples. Would either of them work today? For a start, teens are not in front of a TV screen, they're in front of a computer downloading their favourite shows without ads. With the reaper ad, would this frighten anyone who watches the news at night with its war deaths, tsunami deaths, motor fatalities let alone watching films like 'Saw' or 'Wolf Creek'.
Twenty years ago 'teen' age was around 16, these days it's down as low as 13. There are more drugs, binge drinking, underage sex and sexually transmitted infections than ever before. Information and education about STIs haven't kept up with information about drugs and drink. There are no stats I can give you, just word of mouth from teens. I have no patience with adults who say if there's sex education and information taught in schools, then their kids will want to run out and try it. Halfwits, they're already doing it. As well as condom vending machines in toilets of both genders, put a rack of STI information beside it and load it with graphic photographs. The problem is, we have more religious nutjobs than we had twenty years ago and with a lot more influence than they should have.
When people stopped dying from the complications of AIDS and drug regimes became the norm, HIV went from being a gay disease to a druggie's disease to a sex worker's disease and now it's a third world disease. It's still a death sentence in Africa and S.E. Asia but here it's thought of as an inconvenience that can be controlled with a pill. It's not a death sentence but it's a life sentence and that's the message that has to be pushed at young people, gay or straight.