Condom company under fire for ‘sick’ AIDS jokes in Tinder PR stunt
An Australian condom company is under fire after attempting to advertise its brand by cracking jokes about ‘people with AIDS’.
Hero Condoms launched the campaign in the Sydney area, creating fake profiles on hook-up app Tinder representing STIs, supposedly to raise awareness of safe sex.
However, some of the profiles have come under fire for making light of HIV/AIDS.
The company created a male profile ‘Aydes’ and female profile ‘Aidy’ that both make reference to the AIDS crisis.
The first states: “Only swipe right if you like: Incurable virus’s [sic] that destroys immune systems. Rapid weight loss. Extreme tiredness. Profuse night sweats. Prolonged diarrhoea. Red sores all over your body. Memory loss. Depression. and daily medication to delay an inevitable, premature death.
“Oh, and Cats.”
The other says: “Knock knock. Who’s there? AIDS!
“If you’re looking for just a one nighter, I take things slow. One white blood cell at a time, for the rest of your life.”
Other profiles represented gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia.
Sexual health campaigners have condemned the stunt as ill-informed and stigmatising, especially the entirely false and dangerous suggestion that people with HIV are only delaying an “inevitable premature death”.
HIV campaigner Nic Holas told Buzzfeed: “The most glaring [errors] are the AIDS-related profiles. AIDS is a syndrome that you can’t catch off a Tinder root.
“Beyond the factual errors, the campaign associates human characteristics with STIs, reinforcing the idea that certain types of people are to blame for STIs.
“Avoiding a ‘certain type of person’ isn’t how you avoid contracting STIs.
“It contributes to stigma surrounding STIs, which is precisely what leads to people not getting tested and treated for them.”
However, the company has stopped short of apologising.
A statement said: “The goal of this campaign was to get people talking and thinking about safe sex and we appreciate you joining the discussion. We appreciate your views on the ways in which we could make this more inclusive and effective.
“It was and is not our intention to isolate or stigmatise anyone who has an STI and would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you to discus future communication.
“Health experts say that the rates of certain STIs (such as HIV and Gonorrhoea) are on the rise in Australia, in many cases, among young people. This campaign was designed to connect directly with young people and bring awareness to the fact that many people may not even know they have an STI.
“Condoms help protect against STIs and it is important for us to continue encouraging anyone who is sexually active to protect themselves and their partner(s) from health risks.”