Jul06

HIV video campaign has something to tell you...

CREATED ON // Sunday, 06 July 2014

Tony Majer, CEO of HIV Foundation Qld, talks about the genesis and the aims of the foundation’s current HIV campaign.

In my first week with the HIV Foundation Queensland I attended a marketing meeting where one of the agenda items was “HIV Films”. The brief to our marketing team could not have been clearer – we wanted to make films using real Queenslanders living with HIV and their loved ones that addressed the stigma around HIV, highlighted the importance of increased HIV testing and encouraged prevention.

No actors. No scripts. We just wanted people with a connection to Queensland sharing their experience with HIV. The director of the films has commented that as much as the brief was clear, it was also very tough.

Three months on with the films now released, the result is something so much more than anyone had anticipated.

It is no coincidence that the themes of the films align with the Queensland HIV Strategy 2013-2015: Prevention, Testing, Stigma & Discrimination. Addressing these areas would be common to most HIV Strategies and I’ve often heard it said that the messages used to target these areas are “not as effective as they used to be”.

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With our brief being met in a purely organic and natural way, we believe these films have the potential to find a much wider and more diverse audience than a typical campaign might.

Using real people sharing their personal experiences makes the message all the more compelling. When you watch the films, the honesty and raw emotion of the participants is on display for all to see. From the feedback we have received to date, it is this at times confronting portrayal that is really hitting home to people who view the films.

Hearing a personal perspective from somebody who has experienced the emotions and/or the consequences of any one of the themes touched on in the films, can be an extremely powerful message. It humanises the experience, allowing viewers to see themselves in the participants shoes.

They’re not air brushed models on a poster telling you to go and get tested. They are regular people with friends and families who love them and a life that is not too far removed from a lot of the people we are trying to reach. We believe people will be able to see themselves in these films and that can be a very strong motivator.

The films also highlight stigma and discrimination within the gay community. Sometimes stigma is accidental or unconscious. On a lot of gay apps however using terms like “clean” or “dirty” have become common language and perpetuate the stigma surrounding HIV. Alerting people to this will we hope make people more conscious of their words and actions. The result may be that their HIV-positive friends may feel more confident to disclose their status and the shame of being HIV-positive will reduce.

Using the internet and social media to promote the films has been a great launching pad as it means people can watch them at home. When shared, the films could open up new interactions among groups of friends, who may usually be unlikely to talk about these issues together.

The fact that the films can be viewed as a series or individually increases their value and use in various settings. We have already been contacted by health workers from different parts of Australia wanting to include the films in their work, with many commenting that they are an excellent representation of HIV in Australia today.

The films will be shown in the lead up to the AIDS 2014 Candlelight Vigil in Federation Square later this month. We are also working on other avenues to extend the reach of the films including various mediums across Queensland.

People living with HIV have an important role to play in the fight to end H.I.V. The foundation is extremely grateful to the amazing participants and the bravery displayed in sharing their stories.

We could not be prouder of the final result and encourage you to watch the films and share them with your friends.

Tony Majer is CEO of HIV Foundation Qld.

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