Offener Brief der European AIDS Treatment Group an Ulla Schmitt


Open letter from the EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS (CSF) (pdf Datei) calling upon the German Minister Ulla Schmitt to take appropriate steps to prevent the start of the Regenbogen e.V. „AIDS is a mass murderer“ campaign.

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Mrs Ulla Schmitt
Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
Friedrichstraße 108
D – 10117 Berlin

Brussels, 10 Sept 2009
Open letter – Call to prevent the World AIDS Day “AIDS is a mass murderer” campaign in Germany

Dear Minister,
Dear Mrs. Schmitt,

We are writing to you as Co-chairs of the EU HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum (CSF) in relation to the World AIDS Day campaign by Regenbogen e.V. ‘AIDS is a mass murderer’ about to start in Germany next week, urging you to take appropriate measures to prevent it.
As important as it is to take HIV more seriously across Europe, we believe that this campaign, however well intentioned, is not the appropriate way to raise awareness or prevent HIV transmission. On the contrary, we believe it is over the top, tasteless,
misleading and extremely harmful. It undermines years of effective prevention work in Germany which has successfully involved and included people living with HIV.

There are three main failings to the campaign:

  • First, linking the risk of HIV infection to having sex with a mass murderer is immensely stigmatising of people with HIV.  Stigma is the great barrier to an effective response to the epidemic.  It is what prevents testing, and inhibits frank discussion of HIV status and sexual risk.
  • Secondly, in its key message, the campaign is inaccurate.  It makes no mention of the fact that in Europe effective treatment exists which means HIV is no longer a death sentence.  People diagnosed in time can expect nowadays a near normal life span.
  • Thirdly, it provides no information on the posters or in the video of how to protectyourself and others from HIV infection – ‘use a condom when having sex’, ‘do not share injecting equipment for drug use’ etc.

Effective public health campaigns can sometimes use shock well – but irresponsible andincredible statements only mean that in the end people stop listening.

With due respect to the principle of freedom of expression: we believe that the campaign will seriously harm public health and will encourage stigma and discrimination against peoplewith HIV.

We thus support the call of the Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe to stop the Campaign with immediateeffect. We call on you to take immediate steps to prevent the start of the campaign in cinemas and television as planned.

Sincerely,

Nikos Dedes
Co-chair, Civil Society Forum
European AIDS Treatment Group
Place Raymond Blyckaerts 13
B-1050 Brussels
Email: nikos.dedes@eatg.org

Yusef Azad
Co-chair, Civil Society Forum
Aids Action Europe
Keizersgracht 390
NL -1016 GB Amsterdam
Email: office@aidsactioneurope.org

The EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS (CSF) is an informal advisory body established in 2005 by the European Commission to facilitate the participation of NGOs and networks, including those representing People Living with HIV/AIDS, in European policy development and implementation as well as to exchange information.

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Call to prevent „AIDS is a mass muderer“ campaign in Germany

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