Queensland Health has removed all images of the Grim Reaper from its controversial ‘Let’s End HIV’ campaign website.
The sudden absence follows criticism from HIV experts and health organisations of the use of the notorious image from AIDS awareness ads in the 1980s.
An image of Death from the TV ad originally appeared on every page of the campaign’s website and while the video with the Grim Reaper still remains on the site, all other references appear to have been removed.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg confirmed the change, claiming that the website was being redesigned.
“As I understand it they are in the process of making changes to the site,” the spokesman told Star Observer.
“Just how far advanced that process is or what the final appearance will be is up to the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC).”
When asked why the image had been removed, the spokesman said that it was to accommodate updates and promotion of upcoming events and new adverts.
“The website is being redeveloped and updated to be able to include promotion of the upcoming World AIDS Day and samples of the online advertisements that will appear in mainstream and gay media,” he said.
“The website will continue to be updated and re-modelled with the input and progress from the new MAC on HIV/AIDS. “
Dr Wendell Rosevear, the Brisbane-based HIV/AIDS physician who resigned from Springborg’s MAC last week, identified the presence of the Grim Reaper in the ad and on every page of the website as one of the reasons he would no longer be part of the panel.
“They designed that ad before we had the first meeting,” Rosevear told the Star Observer last week.
“I was shocked and I thought there was clear evidence that they had their own agenda.”
Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) president Mark Morein welcomed the removal of the imagery.
“We welcome the deletion of the imagery of the Grim Reaper. We have said from the first time we saw it that it was unhelpful, unproductive, disappointing and this image shouldn’t be used in 2012,” Morein told the Star Observer.