The cartoons represented varied artistic reflections on the HIV/AIDS epidemic as part of an effort to create a vibrant mosaic that enabled the audience to approach a serious subject through the lens of humour. This "edutainment" strategy is based on the following philosophy, expressed by IPPF/WHR: "While overwhelming statistics and urgent public health messages can paint a grim picture, there is a colorful and positive vision possible as well. This is an image of society in which laughter is a part of sexuality, where economic circumstances do not determine one's health and where as global citizens, we take up the charge to care for one another. This is the creative vision offered by the exhibition...". Furthermore, cartoons are envisioned as being a form of communication that is understood almost universally, by people of many ages and backgrounds - thus being an effective way to make HIV/AIDS information more accessible.
The exhibit included 300 cartoons by graphic artists from 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Croatia, Cuba, France, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, Uruguay and the United States. The drawings featured comedic images such as a smiling man buckling a condom seat belt, a group of firemen holding a condom safety net, and an illustration of the world wrapped in a giant condom. (Click here to view some of the cartoons online.)
The International HIV/AIDS Cartoon Exhibit originated in 2004 through an initiative involving the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Memorial Institute of Graphic Arts; the exhibit was also presented in Mexico in 2005. In 2006, the exhibit was featured in 4 locations in New York (United States). Specifically, on World AIDS Day (December 1) 2006, the United Nations (UN) launched a one-month exhibit featuring the cartoons; it was previously hosted at the premises of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the Hostos College Center for the Arts and Culture, and IPPF/WHR offices.
IPPF/WHR, UNAIDS, Brazilian Ministry of Health.
UN press release [PDF], November 27 2006; and email from Jennifer Zazo to The Communication Initiative on September 7 2012.