European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

AIDS - remember me? Commission launches online vote for best EU HIV/AIDS awareness commercial

The European Commission on 15th November launched the “AIDS - Remember me?” campaign website, paving the way for a “Night of the HIV/AIDS TV commercials” to be held at the Kinepolis cinema in Brussels 30 November, the eve of World AIDS Day. Through the web site, / , the public can view and vote for the best clip from a selection of HIV/AIDS awareness commercials produced by EU Member States. The Commission’s awareness raising campaign also includes a contest for the best screenplay for an HIV/AIDS TV commercial, with the winner seeing the production of their clip financed by the European Commission, and allows web surfers to comment via a video blog. The campaign will culminate in the “Night of the HIV/AIDS TV commercials”, at which EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou will announce the winner of the ‘best EU HIV/AIDS awareness clip’. In partnership with MTV, ‘La Nuit des Publivores’ and Kinepolis, the Commission event will invite the audience of young people, media and representatives of HIV/AIDS awareness NGOs to vote by SMS for the best clip from the selection screened on the night. The campaign also includes a giant banner on the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters from 20 November, as well as posters and postcards with the logo and slogan. The aim of the Commission’s campaign is to urge young people in particular to remember that HIV/AIDS is still with us and to protect themselves. The slogan also invites people to remember those who lost their lives to the disease. A recent Eurobarometer survey revealed widespread ignorance about the basic facts about HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS infections are on the rise in Europe, 50% of new cases are among people aged 15-25, and the most common way of transmission is heterosexual intercourse.

European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: “It is important for all of us to remember this key message: AIDS is still with us, so protect yourself. Many young Europeans have forgotten some basic public health messages about HIV/AIDS. This Commission campaign aims to raise awareness that AIDS is on the rise again in Europe, by inviting young Europeans to watch a unique online video show – the best HIV/AIDS campaign ads from across Europe. By surfing on you can view and vote for your favorite clip, and at the same time remind yourself of the need to practice safe sex.”

Why a contest for the best HIV/AIDS awareness commercial?

Recent statistics, including the latest Eurobarometer (IP/06/1531), show that while the HIV/AIDS epidemic is ongoing in the EU, and actually growing in many of the EU Member States and in neighbouring countries such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine, many young Europeans are less and less aware of the problem and becoming ever more complacent.

Prevention through awareness-raising and education is one of the priority areas for action in the Commission Communication on combating HIV/AIDS within the EU and in the neighbouring countries[1]. The ‘AIDS – Remember Me?’ campaign is the result of discussions with stakeholders, media representatives and youth organisations over the last year following the adoption of the Communication. These discussions confirmed the key role played by television campaigns as part of a broader approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual education, support and counselling. The Commission aims to promote discussion and the exchange of best practice among Member States and stakeholders on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness raising communications.

The public will be able to vote for their favourite clip through the web site, enter the screenplay contest and leave a video blog. The “Night of the HIV/AIDS television commercials” will involve several hundred young people and representatives not only from EU institutions, but also from civil society, media and HIV/AIDS NGOs. The three main partners are the music TV network MTV, the cinema chain Kinepolis, and "La Nuit des Publivores" (a group that organises regular TV ad screenings in different EU countries). The event will be publicised through posters, postcards and a giant banner on the Berlaymont building to mark World AIDS Day. Free condoms carrying the ‘AIDS – Remember Me?’ logo will be distributed at the event.

Contest: want to get your film produced?

Take part in our screenplay competition Moreover, would-be script-writers, aged 15-25, who want to convey their feelings about HIV/AIDS on screen, will have the chance to enter a competition on the web site and make their dream come true. They will have the chance to submit their screenplay for an innovative 30-second video on HIV/AIDS to the “AIDS remember me” website. A high-level panel of HIV/AIDS organisations’ representatives will choose the best film, whose production will be financed by the Commission for a total budget of €40.000.

Recalling basic prevention messages as HIV infections are on the rise

The latest Eurobarometer revealed that almost half (around 45%) of respondents think it is possible to be infected by sharing glasses or toilet seats with, donating blood to or taking care of HIV-positive or AIDS patients. However, the vast majority of respondents are aware it is not risky to eat a meal prepared by infected persons, shake their hand or handle objects they have touched. While most respondents recognise the key role of safer sex, and state that they practice it, fewer and fewer EU-15 citizens declare they take precautions when compared to the 2002 Eurobarometer survey.

According to the latest statistics available, produced by the EU-supported “EuroHIV” network in 2005, 23,620 newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection were reported in the European Union. Two EU countries reported rates of more than 200 new HIV diagnoses per million of the population in 2005 (Estonia 467/million and Portugal 251/million). Among the 22 EU countries with consistent reporting of HIV, there has been nearly a doubling in the number of reported cases since 1998, from 9,264 in 1998 to 17,043 in 2005.