Manchester healthcare agency, Havas Lynx, has collaborated with Ridley Scott’s production company on a new HIV awareness campaign.

Timed for release ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, the 30-second film – entitled “Change the Face of HIV” – is primarily aimed at GPs who can help to diagnose HIV in the very early stages, when symptoms can be quite general and difficult to attribute to HIV.

Written and produced in a distinctive, cinematic style, the short film aims to help primary healthcare givers recognise the changing “face” of HIV and its early symptoms, as well as prompting them to consider testing more readily for the disease.

The film was produced by Havas Lynx for leading pharmaceutical company, ViiV Healthcare, which specialises in the development of therapies for HIV, and was directed by Jamie Delaney of RSA Films, the production company set up by Ridley and Tony Scott.

Watch the film here:

The film centres around one character, Val, but with a twist. Val, a smartly turned out, well-spoken, white woman in her late 50s or 60s, sits down opposite her GP and begins to describe a range of persistent, “common” symptoms – sore throat, backache, cold sores, chest rash, fatigue… but as each one is articulated, Val’s appearance morphs into other “characters” – albeit speaking in her voice.

The “characters” are multi-faceted, some deliberately stereotypical of people often assumed to be at higher risk of HIV infection than women like Val, but all of all of whom represent the spectrum of “faces” now capable of being affected by HIV today.

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I[/dropcap]n the final frame, the film returns to the face of Val, who asks, “What do you think it could be?” and a stark, closing written statement which poignantly revisits her opening words: “Hello I’m Val.” – for which the acronym is “HIV.”

Paul Steinberg, director of ‘Do it London’, a London-wide sexual health campaign, said: “I wish we had this years ago when we were trying to get testing off the ground in Lambeth.”

Sylvia Nicholson, of ViiV Healthcare, said: ‘I’ve never come across an agency in pharma who has gone to this length to make something happen. The film is a million miles away from the usual health messaging campaigns launched, and it’s proved to be very effective, reaching both primary care givers, as well as end consumers.”

The campaign has so far reached an estimated 147,732 people, around four times above the average click-through rates on banner adverts targeted at the health sector.

Havas LIFE creative director, Jon Chapman, said: “Our overarching idea was to depict HIV as “Hidden In View” – it just needs to be found. We show how it could be one person or many, who display different symptoms of the condition without knowing they have it. And all it takes is a simple blood test for early diagnosis to help them live long and healthy lives.”