AIDS and Orientation

In 1990, the CTA posted an advertisement about the spread of HIV/AIDS. It was simple and condemned people for their ignorance on the matter while clarifying simple facts about the disease. At the time, the ad caused huge backlash and many people were very upset about it. The ad features gay couples. It was quickly taken down.

In 2014, the CTA published the same ad with slightly updated models. The message was still the same and it continued to feature lesbian, gay, and straight couples. This time around, barely any people look at it twice.

The obvious acceptance of gay culture is good, but did the AIDS organization who posted it lose their initial shock factor that caused people to talk about it in the first place? Did the ad lose meaning because gay culture is widely accepted in Chicago now compared to the 90’s? Or is the couples as the focal point taking away from the real message, how AIDS spreads, and now the ad can refocus on the original problem?

CTA-kissing-ad (1)

The caption reads: Kissing doesn’t kill. Greed and indifference do.


5 thoughts on “AIDS and Orientation

  1. Interesting analysis on the campaign. Nowadays it seems as though many different issues are now being overlooked due to societies acceptance or just being used to it. Like many issues the fight never stops and there is more than can be done and more awareness to be spread. In this case there has to be a more dynamic way to get the attention of the target audience that could involve digital media. In this day and age those who are at train stops are probably looking at their phone rather than looking around them.


  2. I know that perceptions of AIDS were shattered in the 1990s when a young child got it through birth instead of through sexual activity. They’ve really focused on re-branding the disease so people are not as afraid of it. I think that these advertisements are a great way to continue that rebrand.


  3. Some of the best advertisements for AIDs awareness are on Logo TV, and they have (attractive) men, stripping down to their briefs, telling their stories of why they always wear condoms, whether or not they are HIV positive or not, etc. The commercials were so straightforward and honest, I had to rewind it and show it to my sister just to say, “Wow, look how great this is.” So, the point that Ayrie made above, saying that most people are probably looking at their phones at the train stop instead of the ads around them, is definitely true. But I think that AIDs awareness commercials that use (very attractive) half-naked men are very effective and grab your attention.


  4. I don’t think the advertisement lost shock value when it transitioned from gay couples to a variety of couples. In today’s world, it is true that we have accepted gay culture more than in the previous decades. However, all couples are at risks. I think the decision to have straight, gay, and lesbian couples was to be inclusive. The ad isn’t just meant for the gay population, but for everyone.


  5. I feel as though there hasn’t been as huge of a backlash or any at all because before gays were almost blamed for the AIDs virus. People thought or had the mindset that it was a sickness the only could be obtained through same sex encounters. The reason it was the first ad was taken down was most likely because people felt the ad was enforcing this mindset.


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