Eine bunte Zeichnung von neun unterschiedlichen Personen, Erwachsene und Kinder. Oberhalb von ihnen steht die Frage: "Can you spot which person carries HIV?" Es ist ein Plakat zum Thema HIV des Ministeriums für Gesundheit und Bildung, Uganda von vor 1990.

AIDS as a global media event

An intercultural comparison of posters and their imagery

The Project

The research project focused on the international AIDS poster collection of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, which comprises more than 10,000 posters from 147 countries. The poster collection was the starting point for analysing the ways in which AIDS was presented in the media, from various aspects specific to each individual country. The imagery and symbols, standpoints and guidelines that established themselves within the context of AIDS communication ‘spread’ in a way not dissimilar to that of the HI virus itself. This theory of the ‘visual transportation’ of culture was key to the research work conducted by Croatian art historian Vladimir Čajkovac. He looked at the specific themes, motifs and symbols used in AIDS communication and examined them using posters from the United States and selected African countries. Besides data research on how the posters came to be, the Iconclass system was trialled as a basis for an analytical-historical image processing of the poster collection and the keyword classification system, which was then modified accordingly.

Project results

The research findings were incorporated into the exhibition curated by Vladimir Čajkovac entitled ‘AIDS. Based on a True Story’ (5 September 2015 – 21 February 2016), likewise sponsored by the Federal Cultural Foundation. The eponymous exhibition catalogue was published to coincide with the exhibition. By the time the project was completed, data records with varying processing depths had been created in the digital collection catalogue for around one third of all the posters, available for online viewing.


Online research (in German only) 



Translation by Stephen Grynwasser