Inter Press Service (12.02.11) - Monday, December 19, 2011
"Project Headshot" is a unique campaign that uses stylized
online photos to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among young people
in the Philippines.
The effort is the brainchild of fashion and conceptual
photographer Niccolo Cosme, who started it in 2007 as a way of
merging online profile photos and advertising. After a friend
declared himself HIV-positive, Cosme decided HIV/AIDS
education would be the campaign's central mission. "Profile
photos can be potential online billboards," he said.
Each year, the effort makes use of a unifying element to
distinguish the campaign. This year, participants wore a red
whistle around their neck to "sound the alarm" on the AIDS
"You know how when you open your Facebook account and you get
a notification that says 'This many friends have changed their
profile photos,' and you see all the photos are the same. The
impact is viral," said Cosme.
Project Headshot is backed by UNAIDS. "Social media tools hold
huge potential to help raise the awareness and mobilize the
social action needed to turn the tide on the HIV epidemic,"
the agency says on its website.
Participants have embraced the idea of having their photo
taken for free by a professional photographer and being part
of a high-profile campaign for a good cause. Prior to
shooting, Project Headshot works with the nonprofit Take The
Test to educate participants on HIV/AIDS in the Philippines
and provide free voluntary screening.
According to new UNAIDS data, the Philippines is one of seven
countries reporting a surge in HIV cases amid decreases in
most other countries worldwide. As of March 2011, six new HIV
infections were logged each day in the Philippines.