Hitler AIDS ad stirs controversy

Sept. 11, 2009 at 10:28 PM

BERLIN, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- An anti-AIDS video showing Adolf Hitler having sex with a woman is stirring outrage in Germany.

The blurred clip shows a naked couple having sex, with the climax revealing that the man behind the woman is the grinning Nazi dictator. The spot's closing message: "AIDS is a mass murderer."

The video has sparked massive protests among AIDS awareness and Jewish groups and has since been pulled off YouTube.

Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the ad "a defamation and mockery" of Holocaust victims.

"Apparently the initiators and producers of this campaign are only concerned, without consideration for other's emotions, with provocation based on this slogan: Hitler sells," Kramer said in a statement.

The campaign was commissioned by German charity Regenbogen ("rainbow") and also features the late dictators Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein as bed mates. It was supposed to include posters, as well as radio and TV spots in a bid to give AIDS a face ahead of World AIDS Day Dec. 1.

German TV station RTL has already said it has decided against airing the spot -- and it looks unlikely that the campaign will be rolled out at the scope it was intended to. But Regenbogen earlier this week defended the campaign on its Web site.

"Up until now 28 million people have died. And every day there are 5,000 new cases. Which is why AIDS is one of the most effective mass murderers in history."

But AIDS awareness groups say the clip is stigmatizing people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, because it suggests that they set out to spread the virus.

"Stigma is the great barrier to an effective response to the epidemic. It is what prevents testing, and inhibits frank discussion of HIV status and sexual risk," Deborah Jack, head of Britain's National AIDS Trust, said in a statement. "It is very important we take HIV more seriously in Europe, but this campaign, however well intentioned, is not the way to do it. It is over the top, misleading and harmful."

Critics also point out that the campaign does not provide information on safe sex. "Effective public health campaigns can sometimes use shock tactics well -- but irresponsible and incredible statements only mean that in the end people stop listening," the NAT said.

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