Learning from the Role of Art in Political Advocacy on HIV/AIDS


  • Steven J. Hoffman York University
  • Annemarie Hou United Nations Office for Partnerships
  • Annie Jones
  • Julia Woo McMaster University




AIDS movement, art as advocacy, Keith Haring, the Ribbon Project, Keiskamma Altarpiece


This essay uses a mixed-methods approach combining scoping review, thematic qualitative analysis, and case study methodologies to identify relationships between art and political advocacy in the context of the AIDS epidemic. Thirty-four relevant articles were found through a comprehensive literature search focused on social scientific analyses. Three key themes were identified: addressing negative stereotypes; the importance of education; and giving voice to individuals affected by HIV. The significance of iconic artist Keith Haring and two important artworks related to HIV advocacy—the Keiskamma Altarpiece and the Ribbon Project—are discussed, with lessons distilled for the role that art can play in political advocacy on global health issues more broadly.

Author Biographies

Steven J. Hoffman, York University

Steven J. Hoffman is the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology and a Professor of Global Health, Law, and Political Science at York University, the Director of the Global Strategy Lab, the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance, and the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He holds courtesy appointments as a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Part-Time) at McMaster University and as an Adjunct Professor of Global Health & Population at Harvard University. He is an international lawyer licensed in both Ontario and New York who specializes in global health law, global governance and institutional design. His research leverages various methodological approaches to craft global strategies that better address transnational health threats and social inequalities. Past studies have focused on access to medicines, antimicrobial resistance, health misinformation, pandemics and tobacco control.

Annemarie Hou, United Nations Office for Partnerships

Annemarie Hou is the Executive Director a.i. of the United Nations Office for Partnerships. She also serves as the Senior Communications Adviser with the Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations, focused on partnerships, advocacy and strategic communications for sustainable development. Most recently she served as Chief of Staff and Director of the Executive Office for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Previously, she oversaw the communications and advocacy portfolio at UNAIDS where she was responsible for positioning HIV and development issues in the global landscape. Prior to joining UNAIDS, Ms. Hou worked in the philanthropic field, with a focus on health and children’s issues. She was the Communications Director at Casey Family Programmes, an operating foundation dedicated to child welfare issues started by the founder of UPS. Ms. Hou served as the first Global Health Communications Manager at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as the family’s spokesperson. An award-winning writer, she started her career as a television journalist.

Annie Jones

Annie Jones is a change management and communications consultant in Ottawa, Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Communications: Image, Politics, and Persuasion (Honours) degree from Carleton University, and is a Certified Change Management Practitioner. Her work is focused on healthcare, politics, and government institutions.

Julia Woo, McMaster University

Julia Woo is a researcher and a psychiatry resident at McMaster University. She completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) degree at McMaster University and Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include inner city health, addictions treatment, and predictors of treatment outcomes in mood disorders.




How to Cite

Hoffman, S. J., Hou, A., Jones, A., & Woo, J. (2020). Learning from the Role of Art in Political Advocacy on HIV/AIDS: . Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 11(2), 233–258. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.IN.11.2.13