Different aims, messages, and strategies have strongly influenced the content and design of AIDS posters that address specific target groups. Many early AIDS prevention messages, for example, were aimed heavily at the white gay male community and intravenous drug users of all colours. But some created an atmosphere for open discussion or attempted to condemn or inspire fear. Because people understand pictures in different ways, depending on education or environment for example, and sexual behaviour is deeply rooted in culture and tradition, messages to raise awareness and encourage preventive behaviour varied depending on the intended audience.
This poster, developed by the Red Hot Organization, features an image of homosexual men in an intimate pose. Recognizing that traditional health education methods were frequently ineffective, the creators of this poster use the combination of visual and textual messages to normalize and eroticize safe sex. The voyeuristic presentation works in conjunction with the message: sex can be enjoyable and safe for homosexual men.
In this poster we can see an athletic young man, which is not the typical image of someone with AIDS in the late 1980s. While the viewer may anticipate a message about sports or some other aspect of youth culture, the text in this poster provides a statement about the threat of AIDS associated with drug use. This type of image helped challenge prevailing stereotypes of drug users and at-risk populations for AIDS.
In these two posters we see that the women themselves speak to other women and tell them about their role in avoiding high-risk behaviours and making responsible decisions. These posters were part of a wider campaign conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services beginning in 1989, which covered various aspects of HIV/AIDS education. The viewer is left to reconcile the tension between empowerment and blame. The one poster places the blame on the man, whereas the other image places the burden on the women. The textual message combined with the posture and pose of the women also address a common tendency to be accommodating in relationships, and warn them that their partners won't always be looking out for their best interests, especially where sex is concerned.
This poster from Clement Communications shows a child, which appears to be happy and healthy. But from the message we can conclude that her mother has given her AIDS. We see an emotional appeal to women, which along with the text suggests they have a responsibility beyond themselves to be tested for AIDS.
Designers Against Aids knows how important it is to reach all people with a creative, popular and a bit of a shocking campaign to attract the attention of all people. Because still too many people think ‘AIDS/HIV… something like that will never happen to me’.