Nothing spells out HIV like a 12 foot living floral sculpture spelling out HIV which is exactly what the campaign #HIVHaschanged, installed on New Cathedral Street, right in the heart of the shopping district of Manchester city centre.
The commission by ViiV healthcare with support from the PaSH partnership, which stands for Passionate about Sexual Health and is made up of the George House Trust, LGBT Foundation and BHA for Equality, are getting behind the message #HIVHaschanged and as such a 10 foot high living, breathing, beautiful sculpture was aimed at getting that message across to the public. The sculpture, placed where it was to gain the most amount of publicity and visibility, helped to get the message across to the public on a busy shopping weekend in order to help increase the publics awareness of the changes in the condition.
A large wooden plaque was placed in front of the display with the hash tag #HIVHaschanged and underneath the hash tag read ‘Today, HIV is a treatable, long-term condition’. ‘People living with HIV can lead full and healthy lives’. Although the message didn’t contain a great deal of text, what text it did have was powerful.
The two sentences, in my opinion, used powerful words that I’m sure would resonate with anyone reading the message. Statements such as ‘full and healthy lives ’ and ‘treatable long-term condition’ cannot help but punch through the stigma that is associated with HIV, helping to get the message across that HIV is nothing to be scared of, as it’s a manageable condition. What a fantastic choice of words to help challenge peoples conceptions of the condition but also in making people realise that getting tested and finding out that you are positive is not something to be scared of anymore.
To accompany the campaign #HIVHaschanged is a website that, although not an in depth resource for HIV, is a great starting point for information to be able to educate and help in getting its message across. The website has links to other organisations webpages such as the National Aids Trust (NAT) and the Terrance Higgins Trust (THT) along with links to services providing home testing kits and NHS organisations that also provide testing for HIV and other STI related conditions.
A team of brilliant volunteers worked over the weekend from the start of the campaign to the last day on the very wet and rainy Mancunian Sunday, informing and educating anyone that engaged with the sculpture or wanted more information about what it was about. The volunteers were wearing floral T-Shirts to reflect the ethos of the campaign that HIV is a long term condition and people that have it can lead full and healthy lives, just like the plants and flowers that are growing and blossoming on the sculpture and on their T-Shirts. A brilliant campaign that engaged as many people as possible and helped to show the public that people living with the condition are just as beautiful as the flowers and plants that went to make up the sculpture. Please can we have more campaigns like this one please? Beautiful and Unashamed