Published: 21st November 2018
Tamil Nadu's AIDS Control Society is getting students to make HIV memes to raise awareness on AIDS Day
To raise awareness, TANSACS is inviting memes from college students to create awareness about the disease, prior to World AIDS Day
What's the best way to create AIDS awareness among teens, tweens and younger peeps? Make memes. That's exactly the idea that the team at the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society had prior to World AIDS Day (December 1), last year, when they created a set of memes to create awareness. This year, they took it a step ahead by starting a meme competition for college students all around Tamil Nadu.
"Previously, TANSACS received a lot of funding from the government to create awareness. But these days, there is no much funding because many people these days are aware of AIDS. With lesser funds, we had to come up with an innovative way to create awareness and we thought of memes," says Dr K Senthil Raj IAS, the Project Director of TANSACS. "Memes are also the best way to reach out to teenagers who are entering sex life," he adds.
Memelords from all over Tamil Nadu can email their set of memes to create awareness to email@example.com. The best memes will be published on TANSACS' website and the creators will win a T-Shirt with awareness messages written on them. The contest that began on October 1 was set to end on November 25, but the response from the students was so overwhelming that the society has extended it till November 30. The best memes will be published on December 1. Until now, they have received around 250 memes. They expect to receive around 400 by the end of the month.
Here are a few rules and regulations to send the memes:
The department made around 30-40 memes last year and the response was marvellous. "Did you know that HIV infected couple can have a healthy baby?" asks Senthilraj. "Only memes were able to create this awareness. After seeing our meme, many people called and asked me about this. With proper medication, you can save the baby," he says.
This is not the first time that AIDS awareness campaigns in the country saw such an innovation. Some of you might remember the Pulli Rajavukku AIDS Varuma? campaign in 2003 by the NGO Population Services International, which was to evoke curiosity among people."No one knew what it meant and everyone started asking a lot of questions about it. Finally, we revealed after three months of campaigning that Pulli Raja won't get AIDS if we use a condom," says Senthilraj.
Turning back: A snap from the Pulli Raja campaign | Pic: YouTube/ Trends Adfilm Makers Private Limited
He also talks about how AIDS has become a lifestyle disease these days. "There are AIDS patients who are living healthily with the ART medicines. With the advent of more drugs, it has become something like hypertension. The lifespan of HIV patients have increased now," he says.
The department is also coming up with a new initiative called Zero Stigma project, where people can call a toll free number 1800 419 1800 to talk about the stigma they're facing.