Face of AIDS Film Archive makes 350 films available to the public

Face of AIDS Film Archive, which includes films on the global AIDS epidemic from 1986 onwards has opened up a part of the archive to the public. It is now possible to search through approximately 350 films on the archive website. The full archive of more than 2,000 films is available to researchers, teachers and students via login.

Face of AIDS Film Archive is a unique visual history of a global epidemic. It consists of both documentary films and raw footage. The journalist and film director Staffan Hildebrand has filmed in more than 40 countries. He has interviewed researchers, AIDS activists, persons who inject drugs, sex workers and many others with experience of HIV and AIDS. In the Karolinska Institutet University Library, the films recently have been indexed to be searchable and provided with content descriptions and background material.

The archive has received attention in the research community, and a multidisciplinary research project initiated by film scientists is currently underway at Linnaeus University in Växjö, where researchers from KI participate. "The archive provides great opportunities," says researcher Mariah Larsson at Linnaeus University. "We want to write the history of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, and partly look at issues such as representation, how to talk about safer sex, how different stigmatizations work and about the film director as an activist."

Face of AIDS Film Archive is now being used in teaching at KI. The teachers emphasize, above all, the importance of students exploring topics related to HIV and AIDS other than the purely medical aspects, such as issues regarding stigma, women and children, international comparisons, etc. The films can provide a deeper understanding of the disease in a historical context and describe the development from the years when AIDS was equivalent to a death sentence to today's effective treatments. The long-time perspective allows studies of how attitudes and working methods have changed over the years. Teachers look forward to see how the films in the Face of AIDS Film Archive can make a simple and quick entry to a subject. “I would say that I think it is a very valuable contribution to give young scientists perspective.” Max Essex, pointed out in 2004, Chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI).

Even at high school level, the films are a resource in the teaching. At the Natural Science Program at Västermalms Gymnasium in Sundsvall, students have worked on the film "Women at the Frontline" focusing on women's involvement in HIV and AIDS issues around the world.

The archive has received attention in an international context. Requests have come from several universities, including Harvard University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In October 2016, Staffan Hildebrand participated in a symposium on HIV/AIDS history at Cold Spring Harbor in the United States, HIV / AIDS Research: Its History and Future, where he spoke about his thirty-year work on documenting the AIDS epidemic around the world.

At World AIDS Day 2017, the University Library plans to open an exhibition building on material from the archive.

Email faceofaids@ki.se for questions about the archive

Fredrik Persson

Martin Kristenson