On social networks and in salons, hairstylists are getting involved in Hairdressers Against AIDS, a vast movement to take action and cut HIV/AIDS short. Thousands of hairdressers are getting involved all over the world, and Guido Palau in New York, David Lucas in Paris and Wanderley Estrella in Brazil tell us how they’re taking action.
A large-scale digital campaign
HIV and AIDS: one is a virus, the other is a disease, but neither has been vanquished yet. As we are reminded with Hairdressers cut AIDS short, HIV is still one of the top 10 major causes of death and only 40% of those living with the virus and 30% of infected children have access to treatment. To spread a message of prevention and education far and wide, the Hairdressers Against AIDS programme is using an original digital mechanism. From country to country, hairstylists and other players in beauty careers and elsewhere are getting temporary tattoos on their hands of the red AIDS ribbon, making a symbolic gesture of cutting one lock of hair and then take a picture, sharing it on social networks with the hashtag #cutAIDSshort. Many rising personalities in the world of professional beauty have taken part in the picture campaign. Their pretty faces include Lea T, the transgender Brazilian model idolized by Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy’s artistic director and muse for Redken; and even the Brits Suki Waterhouse and Amber Le Bon, two other muses of the legendary American haircare brand. With their Instagram accounts being followed by millions, their communication is spreading like spilled powder!
Hairstylists showing their commitment
From Paris to New York to Rio de Janeiro, hairstylists and their teams speak with their clients about trifles, but sometimes the discussion turns much more serious. “A hair salon is a place where any discussion is possible, including those about important issues such as AIDS,” says hairstylist David Lucas. “Touching clients’ hair and scalp quickly forms a certain proximity that can lead to a bond. Many clients afflicted with cancer speak about their illness rather freely, often because they are losing their hair and want some advice. However, AIDS is more rarely discussed. It’s somewhat of a taboo subject; maybe because it can have something to do with sexuality,” he explains, after being involved in Hairdressers Against AIDS for the 3rd year in a row. In his Parisian salon near Place Vendôme, David Lucas and his team already played the game last year with Salon Rumors, a fun, informative test about HIV and AIDS. They’re ready to give the right information if the discussion arises with their clients. In Rio, hairstylist Wanderley Estrella often hears many false ideas about the disease: “I’ve had the virus now for 26 years and I’ve heard all sorts of false information and other prejudices, usually due to a lack of knowledge. Hair salons are a source of distributing important information and we have to really advise clients especially about prevention, the risks and the importance of protection during sexual relations,” he insists.
The same awareness is spread by Guido Palau, a British hairdresser who has worked in New York for several years. “Every time of awareness we can raise about AIDS is essential in my opinion. And more broadly, anything that can affect any of us is crucial. I’ve seen that as soon as you get away from large cities, people speak about it less often, so I’m eager to want to communicate about the disease and I’m taking part in the Hairdressers Against AIDS program, hoping that it can raise awareness in my community of hairdressers, clients and friends,” says Guido, who stands by his words. “I sometimes get the impression that some people who have HIV caught it without really knowing what was happening to them – the more we talk about it, the better it is!” he adds.
With 35 million people who have the virus in the world, and still with no treatment to cure it and no vaccine to prevent it, communicating about HIV and AIDS and making a donation seem to be the best way we have to eradicate it.