What has Adolf Hitler to do with an AIDS awareness campaign? A video released in Germany to mark the 2009 World AIDS Day says unprotected sex is dangerous as the Fuehrer. But it has been denounced for scare-mongering.
The commercial, showing a couple making love, takes a macabre twist when the camera pans to man's face at the moment of climax - revealing him to be Adolf Hitler.
AdvertisementThe video was produced by the young Hamburg-based advertising agency das comitee on behalf of a small German Aids awareness group called Regenbogen e.V.
And the group doesn't stop with Hitler. Other brutal dictators the West is familiar with, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, are also invoked in their campaign.
It is designed to shake people up, to bring the topic of AIDS back to centre stage, and to reverse the trend of unprotected sexual intercourse. Because anyone can become infected, the campaign website says.
Over the past number of years, public interest in AIDS has massively declined. The number of victims, however, has not. As of now, over 30 million people worldwide have died. And every day, almost 6000 new deaths are added to that number. This makes AIDS one of the largest mass murderers of all time. In Germany alone, around 60,000 people are infected with HIV or AIDS. Nobody should be allowed to forget these numbers, the campaign stresses.
But some British HIV/Aids charities have warned that it could make life more difficult for sufferers.
"Of course there are many HIV organisations that run their own campaigns, however I think the advert is incredibly stigmatising to people living with HIV who already face much stigma and discrimination due to ignorance about the virus," a spokeswoman for the National AIDS Trust, which co-ordinates World Aids Day in Britain, said.
"On top of this it fails to provide any kind of actual prevention message (e.g. use a condom) and may deter people to come forward for testing.
Hans Weishäupl, creative director of das comitee, told the Telegraph that it proposed the Hitler film after being asked to come up with hard-hitting ideas.
"A lot of people are not aware that Aids is still murdering many people every day. They wanted a campaign which told young people that it is still a threat," he said. "In Germany, Hitler is the ugliest face you can use to show evil".
Mr Weishäupl said that the some members of the Regenbogen e.V organisation who have Aids raised concerns that the campaign could present a negative view of sufferers, but they agreed that the advert's shock value could help prevent the spread of the infection.