Assistance publique des Hôpitaux de Paris, AP-HP, France
Université de Paris, UTCBS, CNRS-Inserm, Paris, France
Service de virologie, Hôpital universitaire Bichat-Claude Bernard, AP-HP, Paris, France
Université de Paris, IAME, Inserm, Paris, France
Professeur honoraire, Paris, France
The postage stamp can serve as a means of promoting the social, educational and philanthropic aspects of the fight against disease in general and infectious diseases (such as AIDS, associated with HIV infection) in particular. The recent but eventful history of this virus and the disease that it causes has prompted the issue of a considerable number of postage stamps worldwide – barely fewer than the number dedicated to combating tuberculosis and malaria. The present semiotic review of 356 international postage stamps on HIV/AIDS is the first to have used a multicriterion evaluation grid based on the interpretation of indices, icons, and symbols. The stereotypes and the most novel representations and the messages conveyed on the cultural and ideological levels are thus characterized with regard to the disease's historical, scientific and epidemiological context. This analysis concludes with a humanist plea as an illustration of Hippocratic and Galenic values: prevention, education, solidarity, empathy, healthcare, and research.