The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slick book stings

Mumbai, Sept. 18: Dying of AIDS can be hip and cool.

A slick, coffee-table book on the HIV virus, which could pass off as the centenary edition of a glossy magazine, has just hit the stands to leave AIDS activists squirming.

The idea behind The Positive Side, priced at Rs 1,295 and released to popping flashbulbs by Anupam Kher last week, is to make life better for the HIV-affected, says Samir Modi of Modicare Foundation, the brains behind the book.

“Yes, viruses have positive sides too. One particular virus, HIV, has a positive side that is both dingy and bright. Close your eyes and you see the dark. Open them and you’ll see the light,” he says.

But AIDS activists say the only light that shines from the book is off its sheen, giving the distinct impression that the disease is not only pretty and glamourous, but even quite cool, hip and young.

Every second page in the book — published by Roli Books and put together by advertising agency Contract — is a composed frame with attractive young models “posing” as HIV-affected, with personal narratives of “real” people and “tips” on how to get on with HIV.

The “things to do” are numerous. “Throw away ego, buy a telescope, read more, work for free, hitchhike, visit Greece, get a tan, learn to play the didgeridoo,” are a few.

“The strongest message of the book seems to be that all HIV-affected are ready to die. Death is something they have accepted. So much money has been spent on the book, they should have taken more care,” says activist Ashay Kurkunkar.

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