Update HIV: Serviceplan wants a new name for HIV

"Change the Name, End the Stigma": On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Serviceplan Suisse and Youth Against Aids call for the renaming of HIV in an open letter to the World Health Organization. The accompanying campaign was developed by Serviceplan Suisse.

With the core message "Change the name, end the stigma," the global campaign marking Thursday's World AIDS Day has been launched. An open letter calls on World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to rename HIV. The letter calls HIV an "epidemic of the mind" that is caused and spread primarily by non-medical factors.

At the same time the Epidemic of the Mind Report which was produced by Youth Against Aids in collaboration with LMU Munich and supported by the Boston Consulting Group. The study investigated why so many young people are still infected with HIV. The result is that it is not medical-therapeutic but intellectual obstacles that prevent the epidemic from being fought. That is why HIV is an "epidemic of the mind.

In all cultures, the justified fear of being considered promiscuous, impure or dangerously infectious still leads vulnerable groups and people living with HIV not to take up treatment and prevention measures. The "Update HIV" campaign aims to spark a new and progressive discussion about the issue on a personal and political level in order to permanently change the way HIV is viewed and prevent new infections. And that starts with the name, he said.

The biggest obstacles to ending the HIV epidemic today are no longer medical, but social, cultural and political: living with HIV today is not like it was 40 years ago. But the stigma has remained almost the same. "Calling on the World Health Organization to give the virus a new name is to recognize the advances in treatment and understanding of HIV and to give people living with the virus the chance to live the stigma-free lives they deserve," said Daniel Nagel, CEO of the Ohhh! Foundation, which launched the Youth Against Aids initiative.

"Most people associate the term 'HIV' with ideas that are outdated and no longer reflect the reality of the virus in the 21st century. We need to break through that stigma," Nagel explains. "It's dangerous because it's self-fulfilling. When you ask people to use a new name for something, they are made to change their way of thinking. That's what we're trying to accomplish."

The campaign has been in planning and preparation for twelve months. In September 2022, Youth Against Aids representatives met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to put HIV back on the agenda. Across town, the NGO and Serviceplan Suisse made "Update HIV" visible with a digital campaign placement in Times Square. The campaign messages were also on display at Nasdaq Tower on Thursday for World AIDS Day.

"The way people talk about HIV and how campaigns communicate the issue verbally and visually has shaped our understanding of this disease for decades. Today, the three letters HIV are inextricably linked with stigma - with fears, hatred and alienation," says Marcin Baba, Creative Director at Serviceplan Suisse. "These socio-cultural issues prevent us from ending the epidemic. Our creative approach uses classic marketing tools. In a rebranding process, we want to finally rid HIV of the harmful stigma."

Raul Serrat, Executive Creative Director at Serviceplan Suisse, adds, "What's holding back HIV testing and treatment programs is basically an image problem: Too many people see HIV as a stigma, get too little education and no appropriate treatment. With the 'Update HIV' campaign, we want to initiate a discussion to change exactly that and continue to sustain the successful fight against the virus."

The goal is to engage the public and lead the discussion about stigma, the importance of language, and working toward better solutions. The open letter can be downloaded at Updatehiv.com be signed. In addition, people can participate in the discussion with their own name suggestion. As the campaign progresses, a participatory process will ensure that as many people as possible can be involved in this open discussion. The website also contains additional information about HIV and the ongoing impact of stigma on the epidemic.

Further campaigns planned

The publication of the Open Letter in print media such as the Times, the Daily Mirror, Handelsblatt, the NZZ as well as in digital media and OOH, was accompanied by extensive press coverage and a social media campaign in which influencers spread the campaign message and encouraged people to learn about HIV on the website.

The campaign film, which can also be seen on the website, was created in collaboration with photographer Gideon Mendel, who has been photographically documenting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa since 1980.

Responsible at Serviceplan Group: Jason Romeyko (Worldwide Executive Creative Director); Lee Sharrock (International Communications Officer); Birgit Koch (Head of Corporate Communications, Serviceplan Agencies). Responsible at Ohhh! Foundation: Daniel Nagel (CEO); Roman Malessa (Management Team Member, Partnerships & Africa Head); Jona Koch PR Lead (JK Access). Responsible at House of Communication Switzerland: Raul Serrat (CCO); Marcin Baba (Executive Creative Director); Micha Seger (Executive Creative Director); Henry Clarke (Senior Copywriter); Günter Zumbach (Senior Copywriter); Joss Arnott (Junior Copywriter); Nadja Tandler (Art Director); Carina Kienzle (Junior Art Director); Dominik Shota Schweingruber (Motion Designer); Dario Pucci (Motion Designer); Lea Manfredi (Motion Designer); Lorenzo Müller (Senior Digital Art Director); Luca Di Francesco (Digital Art Director); Aline Litchenhaus (Senior Account Manager); Laura Seifert (Account Manager); Pam Hügli (CEO). Responsible at House of Communication Spain: Ainhoa de las Pozas (General Management); Emilio Valverde (Executive Creative Director); Pablo Tesio (Senior Copywriter); Carlos Alcácer (Senior Art Director); David Pérez (Art Director); Vanesa Gómez (Account Director); Marta Queiruga (Public Relations). Responsible at House of Communication Paris: Mickaël Paillard (Lead Developer); Matthieu Decarpenterie (Lead Developer); Jonathan Conan (Junior Account Manager); Charlie D'halluin (Web Developer); Anthony Laplane (Word Press Developer); Adrian Albu (Devops Engineer). Responsible at House of Communication Hamburg: Dennis Fritz (Creative Director Video).

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