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New Aids campaign focuses on joie de vivre

Renée Zellweger lends her support to the "Love Life - Stop Aids" campaign. Swiss Aids Federation

A new government-sponsored campaign, "Love Life – Stop Aids", is aiming to spread a positive message about sexuality.

This content was published on April 29, 2005 - 16:58

Whereas previous campaigns concentrated on education, the new approach by the Federal Health Office and the Swiss Aids Federation also puts the stress on enjoying life.

Thomas Zeltner, director of the Federal Health Office, said on Friday that a "rethink" was necessary because of the need to make younger people pay more attention to an apparently familiar issue.

Zeltner said there was a growing indifference to HIV/Aids, as new treatments mean it is perceived as less of a threat nowadays.

"Many people think there’s a cure for HIV/Aids," he said. "That is a fatal mistake."

The campaign’s central precepts, as featured on the Love Life logo, are: "no intercourse without a condom" and "semen or blood – never in the mouth".

Celebrity appeal

The three basic aims of the campaign are to prevent new cases of HIV infections, to lessen the negative effects of the epidemic, and to promote solidarity with people affected by the disease.

This year the campaign’s budget is SFr3 million ($2.5 million). This will cover television, cinema and radio adverts, posters and the new Love Life website.

The website gives advice and facts on HIV/Aids and provides further information about campaigns past and present.

The poster campaign, which starts on Monday, features Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger, whose father was born in Switzerland, and Marc Forster (director of the Oscar-nominated Finding Neverland), who grew up in Switzerland.

In the posters, the celebrities emphasise the campaign’s two central messages by giving the V for victory sign.

Campaign strategy

"We’ve never used shock tactics and there’s a good reason for that," David Vuillaume, director of communications at the Swiss Aids Federation, told swissinfo.

"The Stop Aids campaigns have existed for 18 years and there has always been this discussion along the lines of: should we shock people or should we inform them?

"Our attitude has always been the same: we must promote and encourage solidarity."

"We must obviously focus on prevention, but studies show that strong images have an effect for two minutes and then people forget them. And they never change people’s attitudes."

"We always have to give a double message: Be careful – you must use a condom and look after your health; but don’t discriminate against people who are infected."

Swiss statistics

The Federal Health Office estimates that there are 600-700 new cases of HIV a year in Switzerland.

In the first quarter of 2005, 58 cases of Aids (39 male) were reported, compared with 91 for the same period in 2004.

These figures point to a break in the trend of the previous two years, in which the number of Aids cases increased.

However, the Federal Health Office says the figures are not comparable since some cases were diagnosed a year or more before they were reported.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

There were 8,023 cases of Aids in Switzerland between 1983 and 2004, and 5,531 people have died from the disease.
It is estimated that between 210-280 people in the country were infected with HIV/Aids last year, and 27,904 since 1985.
28 million worldwide are believed to have died from the disease.

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In brief

"Love Life – Stop Aids" is the latest government Aids campaign.

The central messages involve the use of condoms and a warning about oral sex, but the campaign also stresses the general theme of enjoying life.

Actress Renée Zellweger and director Marc Forster feature in posters.

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