Athens, 24 February 2015

One of the most widespread videos of the last few days on television and the internet, not only in Greece, but all over Europe, is an excerpt of the Dutch broadcast “Cojones” which presents with a sarcastic way and in “hip hop” rhythms the Greek Finance Minister Mr. Gianni Varoufaki, the President of Eurogoup Mr. Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a musical dialogue which mocks the latest developments regarding the condition of new financing in Greece.

The smart, admittedly, production, would not be the center of attention from the three organizations working on matters concerning HIV in Greece, the Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice”, “Center for Life” and “PRAKSIS”, if there was not a specific reference in the lyrics which underlines the most stereotypical stances and perceptions regarding the transmission of HIV. Specifically, the actor which plays Mr. Varoufaki referring to the actor which plays Mr. Dijsselbloem, says specifically « Come on, just shake my hand on a normal way, I don’t have HIV».

We understand that satire has its own rules and norms, with the main objective being exaggeration. We believe though that it is our obligation to collate in such cases the correct information, as satire is eminently a powerful tool in influencing public opinion. For this reason we are intervening publically- we are doing the same towards the television station that hosts the production in the Netherlands- to highlight the obvious, that HIV does not transmit through a handshake as well as with no other social contact, only with sexual contact without protection, by sharing needles and medical supplies for substance use, from an HIV positive woman who is pregnant towards the embryo and with a transfusion of infected blood.

The stigma and social exclusion of people living with HIV come from the ignorance and myths that are interconnected with the specific illness. For this reason, without questioning the intentions of the creators of the video, we invite those who express public discourse, both in Greece and in Europe, to be more cautious when making references to HIV/AIDS, thus actively contributing towards our efforts for the elimination of stereotypical and phobic approaches on the matter.

The three organization which work on matters regarding HIV/AIDS in Greece, the Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice”, “Center for Life” and “PRAKSIS”, have created a collaborative platform, to address social exclusion and stigma faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, to defend their rights, increase their visibility in the public sphere, as well as awareness and education of the main policy makers and common opinion, such as the parliament, local government and the media.