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Jan Schwertner of the Saarbruecken-based AIDS awareness group "Regenbogen"
Jan Schwertner says the intentions behind the anti-AIDS spot were goodImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Controversial ad

September 9, 2009

YouTube has removed a controversial anti-AIDS video that mixes sex, AIDS and Hitler after critics slammed the spot as disgusting and inappropriate.


The Internet video-sharing site YouTube took the controversial video offline on Wednesday. A message on the popular website said that the clip had been removed "due to terms of violation," without giving any further details.

The spot, which was produced by the Hamburg-based advertizing agency "das comitee" and launched by the AIDS awareness group Regenbogen last week, runs just over 90 seconds.

It shows a couple having sex in a murky room. To begin with, the focus is on body parts gliding over white bed sheets combined with the occasional shot of the woman's face.

An Adolf Hitler lookalike having sex with a woman
This poster is similar to the final scene of the adImage: das comitee/Uwe Düttmann

As the proceedings begin to reach a climax, the camera zooms in on the man, who suddenly lifts his head. His face is that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The spot ends with the sentence: "AIDS is a mass murderer. Protect yourself."

The ad has provoked outrage among AIDS groups and Jewish organizations who have slammed the spot as being tasteless.

"The disgusting spot ... derides the victims of National Socialism and compares people suffering from HIV to mass murderers," said Carsten Schatz, the chairman of Deutsche AIDS Hilfe, Germany's main HIV/AIDS charity.

Schatz also criticized the video for not giving information on how to protect oneself against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

The spot's originators said they could not understand what all the fuss was about. They have apologized, but are unwilling to take the campaign spot offline - the video is still available at www.aids-is-a-mass-murderer.com.

"We never intended to depict those who suffer from AIDS or HIV as mass murderers. We wanted to give a face to the disease," said Regenbogen's Jan Schwertner.

Stalin and Hussein lookalikes, each having sex with a women. The slogan: AIDS is a mass murderer is at the bottom of each picture
The dictators Josef Stalin, left, and Saddam Hussein also feature in the campaignImage: das comitee/Uwe Düttmann

"The campaign was designed to make people sit up and get the issue back on the agenda and stop the trend toward unprotected sexual intercourse," the group said in a statement on its website.

The anti-AIDS campaign includes posters of Soviet and Iraqi dictators Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein in naked embraces with women and underlined with the slogan "AIDS is a mass murderer."


Editor: Nancy Isenson

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