THE Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has launched a new exhibition in Melbourne that looks back at Australia’s longest-running sexual health campaign.

The Drama Downunder campaign has been continuously running for eight years after being initially commissioned by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).

VAC chief executive Simon Ruth said the week-long exhibition will feature new and old imagery and sexual health messaging across the campaign’s history.

“It will feature pictures that didn’t get past the advertising standards because they were seen as too suggestive, so they’ll be seen for the first time ever,” he told the Star Observer.

“It’s a great opportunity to see how a campaign like this has developed over time.”

The campaign’s newest series is soon to be launched, and will focus on the importance of getting tested every three months.

Ruth said there would be four visuals for the campaign, each representing a different season.

“It’s been a flexible campaign, one that we’ve been able to tailor quickly when we need to, like when there have been syphilis outbreaks,” he said.

“It’s also a campaign that the community recognises and loves… funnily enough, many heterosexual people thought it was a campaign targeting them, while gay men identified it as targeting the queer community.”

Drama Downunder was developed by VAC to help remove the stigma associated with discussing sexual health, and to encourage people to look after their sexual health.

The campaign has largely been implemented in mainstream outdoor and transport media such as in bus shelters and trams.

“It’s a campaign that works across the community,” Ruth said.

People currently get tested on average 1.3 times a year, but the upcoming series aims to increase this rate to four.

“We know that testing regularly, as well as getting onto treatment early, is how we’ll meet the HIV epidemic,” Ruth said.

The Drama Downunder Retrospective Exhibition is on until Monday, August 31 at the OKLA Gallery on Keele St, Collingwood

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