Superheroes, quilts and wish trees to fight AIDS | world | Hindustan Times
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Superheroes, quilts and wish trees to fight AIDS

world Updated: Jul 20, 2010 22:03 IST

Colourful, creative and a little bit crazy: the fight against AIDS can be all that as activists demonstrated today at the Global Village on the sidelines of the World AIDS Conference in Vienna.

At one end of the Village, super-heroes Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe stood in bright latex suits, ready to affront the deadly scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Methadone and buprenorphine are used to treat drug addiction, especially to heroin, which is a major contributor to the AIDS epidemic due to shared needles.

"We wanted to make a campaign that was fun and dynamic, something that would make people gravitate towards the campaign rather than us going to them," Carlos Moreno, who produced a comic book of the two heroes for the Open Society Institute project, told AFP.

"When you approach people in this sort of method, people let their guard down a little bit, so you can talk about this in a much more fun and memorable way that sticks with you later."

Over 120 booths from 80 countries have set up shop in the hall adjoining the conference centre where the biennial AIDS congress is being held this week.

But while free condoms and brochures on prevention and awareness were the norm, more than a few exhibitors decided on a new approach.

Visitors were queuing up for a copy of The Adventures of Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe, a free T-shirt, or a picture with the two superheroes.

Major signs urging visitors to "Condomize" were spelt out in variously coloured condoms.

And on the main stage, transgender dancers from India performed a Bollywood show, while a group of youngsters from Kyrgyzstan presented a musical on gender issues, HIV and discrimination, to warm applause by an eager crowd.

Above the hall, large quilts paying tribute to AIDS victims acted as another reminder of the risks of HIV.

Inspired by the international Names project, founded in the United States in 1987, an Austrian outfit was encouraging visitors and delegates of the conference to paint a panel to commemorate a dead friend, which would later be sewn into a large quilt.