The rampant spread of the HIV/AIDS virus over the past 29 years has created the most significant global public health crisis in modern history. Because of the complexity and despite the scale of the epidemic, there are still a lack of worldwide strategies to lead AIDS education. Education initiatives
in many countries are still shouldered to a great extent by government agencies and grassroots organizations led by community activists who are often motivated local citizens.
The poster has played a special role in promoting AIDS awareness and safe sex education across cultures. Different aims, messages, visual metaphors, and strategies have strongly influenced the content and design of AIDS posters. In many countries, the poster as a communicative tool was uncommon before the emergence and identification of the HIV virus. With a disease involving sexuality and sexual behavior, and therefore social and moral issues deeply rooted in culture and tradition, messages to raise awareness and encourage preventative behavior have varied significantly to best serve the intended audience. This information can successfully reach specific targeted groups in part because the poster is inexpensive and easy to produce locally.
Regardless of cultural differences, AIDS posters can be meaningful to viewers because they frequently draw on images from popular culture and express the living habits of people. This selection of posters, from the collections of Jim Lapides and MassArt, presents an insightful
overview of diverse visual strategies employed by many different countries in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.