Back in January I posed the following question: “Is doing something as silly (and, to some, either sexist or demeaning) as this justified in the name of increasing awareness about a disease?” In that post, I was referring to the bra-focused tactics of a light-hearted campaign intended to raise breast cancer awareness. Along those lines, our March cover has received a lot of attention; unfortunately, not all of it has been positive.
Our goal was to draw attention to our two CE features of the month: “Every Nurse Is an HIV Nurse” and “Aging with HIV: Clinical Considerations for an Emerging Population.” As Shawn Kennedy, interim editor in chief and editorial director at AJN, points out in this month’s editorial, “AIDS awareness in this country seems to have diminished—in fact, for some, it hardly seems a concern at all. A recent CDC report on risk behavior in adolescents found that during 2007, 39% of sexually active high school students ‘had not used a condom during last sexual intercourse.’”
I asked Robert Walker to provide us with this month’s cover art after meeting him through a mutual friend. Through his comic book series O+Men, about nine HIV positive superheroes, he has been getting a lot of recognition for promoting HIV and AIDS awareness. For more information about Walker, read this month’s On the Cover in AJN, or listen to an interview with Walker on National Public Radio.
While many find his work important, some of our readers have found the cover illustration offensive. His comic books are not created for children but for adolescents and adults. I know tastes vary, and I certainly won’t try to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t find offensive. In my view, though, with all of the images that bombard us in the media these days, a few superheroes showing off their muscles and shapely figures for a good cause is justified in the name of increasing awareness about a disease.