Today is International AIDS Day.
I still remember, driving home to school on a November morning and listening on the radio about Freddie Mercury’s death from AIDS. I still remember my friend D lamenting his death. (To this day, we say Freddie was gay only because he never met us…).
I would like to write about the most effective public health campaign ever. Granted, it is likely only a few hundreds of people saw it. It was never made national, or televised. It consisted of two small posters, drawn by hand, made by some medical students. I call it the most effective campaign because I still remember it, 22 years later.
It was 1989, and I was visiting Veracruz with my father, my mother and my brother. My mom had an AMFEM meeting, and one of the activities included touring the medical school. The posters were taped to a window. The drawings were something like blue and pink eggs (although it could’ve been the male and female symbol). The posters said, in large letters, SI DA and NO DA (a play on the Spanish acronym for AIDS, SIDA, and the phrase Si Da, you can get it.)
On the SI DA poster, you had the “eggs” engaging in activities that put you at risk of acquiring AIDS, like using drugs, having homosexual and heterosexual unprotected sex, a seropositive pregnant woman passing it on to her child, etc. The NO DA poster showed the “eggs” hugging, kissing, sharing food, dancing, swimming, etc.
Those posters stuck with me. I wish I had a photo, or knew who made them. They were clear, brief and simple, enough to attract a child’s attention, and retain it long enough for her to read and learn (granted, the child in question used to read anything in her path).
I can’t say those posters (or any AIDS campaign, for that matter) caused a change in my behavior. After all, I wasn’t old enough to partake in any of those risks. But I’m pretty sure that some of the students at the Veracruz medical school saw them, and learned, and changed their attitudes and behavior on account of those two posters.
Ha, nevermind. Romanticism, be gone! The posters were not made by students, but by the pros at the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo. Still, it was an effective campaign! You can see the posters here, here (not the originals, but a better view), and the ads below. (Thanks to Google, and all the people who posted this material)