We All Have AIDS

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We All Have AIDS is a "public service" campaign led by the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and KNOW HIV/AIDS (a joint "public education" initiative of Viacom and the Kaiser Foundation). It was launched on 1 December (World AIDS Day) in 2005.

"We All Have AIDS" is the brainchild of American clothing designer Kenneth Cole. Cole was responsible for one of the major "AIDS awareness" campaigns in 1985, and he is currently the Chairman of the Board of amfAR. The work of celebrity and fashion photographer Mark Seliger is also prominent.

As of December 2005, "We All Have AIDS" is not incorporated as a nonprofit foundation and remains under the administrative umbrella of amfAR.

The mantra of the campaign is "We all have AIDS, if one of us has AIDS." It has a closely related cousin — "If anyone is infected, we're all affected."

Focus of campaign

The focus of the campaign is on stigma. As the official website proclaims: "More than two decades into the worst healthcare crisis the world has ever known, STIGMA still challenges efforts to prevent, to treat and to ultimately cure HIV/AIDS. The awareness of such STIGMA is a necessary step towards the prevention, containment and eventual eradication, and is fortunately something we can all effect." [1]

Such sensationalistic verbiage permeates the campaign's website and various quotes by Cole. For example, in an interview with ABC News, Cole claimed that "AIDS is growing exponentially" and "90-95% of people with AIDS don't know they have AIDS". (To view the interview, click on [2], then click on "Top Videos".)

Celebrity media blitz

"We All Have AIDS" is a coordinated media blitz which will include magazines, newspapers, radio ads, and bus and billboard postings in major markets across the U.S. over the coming months and years. A line of T-shirts has also been launched. The T-shirts read, "We all have AIDS" or "I have AIDS" and sell for $35.

Many celebrities have jumped on board the campaign. These include entertainers, politicians, activists and AIDS scientists such as Zackie Achmat, David Baltimore, Bono, Anthony Fauci, Tom Hanks, David Ho, Larry Kramer, Mathilda Krim, Nelson Mandela, Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, and Desmond Tutu. Many of these celebrities have been photographed for the campaign.

Others have participated in a cement footprint installation which was launched on World AIDS Day in New York City's Bryant Park. As the official website states: "Barefoot and determined, each participant has left a meaningful mark in cement, but more importantly in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the destructive STIGMA associated with this devastating disease." The installation will move to a permanent location in New York City soon after the holidays.

Group-fantasy aspects

"We All Have AIDS" contains much evidence supporting Casper Schmidt's hypothesis that HIV/AIDS is an example of epidemic hysteria. [3] The exaggerated posturing, the sensationalistic verbiage, and the unconscious group-fantasy symbolism and delusions are all present. In many ways, the campaign is the psychosocial descendent of the AIDS Quilt and the red ribbon campaigns of previous years. The "footprints" display is an especially pathetic example of the group regression to an infantile and irrational state of mind.

External links