A series of racy AIDS awareness ads sponsored by Quebec's Health and Social Services Department, which include images of a gay couple engaged in sexual intercourse, will begin appearing in gay publications, major metropolitan centers, and gay bars to help combat rising HIV infection rates in the Canadian province, the Montreal Gazette reports. The ads depict tombstone statues of a woman using injection drugs as well a straight couple and a gay couple engaged in sexual intercourse, with epitaphs that read, "AIDS is still around, 1981- ."
Health department officials said the ads were designed to be shocking in order to get the attention of those at risk for HIV infection, particularly young adults. "It's sad, but young people still associate AIDS with drug addicts, homosexuals, or [with] certain ethnicity. They forget it can happen to them," said health department spokeswoman Dominque Breton.
The ad developers admit that some people may consider the ads too racy, but they say such extreme tactics are necessary. "Right now there is a silence that is more dangerous than any issue of bad taste," said Luc Gagnon, executive director of the AIDS service organization Comite des Personnes Atteintes du VIH. "The important issue is whether the campaign provokes a change of behavior."