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Updated Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Amsterdam: A light shines on a looming problem

By Kristin R. Jackson
NW Traveler editor

AMSTERDAM IS one of the world's most freewheeling cities. Where else would you find an ancient tower wearing a giant condom, thanks to a high-tech light projection?

Activists of the Stop AIDS Now campaign lit up the Dutch city's Munttoren, or Mint Tower, with the protect-yourself-from-infection projection of a more-than-100-foot-tall condom to mark World AIDS Day last year. The tower, once part of Amsterdam's medieval city wall and embellished architecturally through the centuries, gleamed with their message.

World AIDS Day, held each year on Dec. 1, started in 1988 to draw attention to the scourge of HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that can lead to AIDS. It's a global infection, often transmitted sexually and at birth. About 34 million people are living with HIV and about 1.8 million people die each year, according to recent statistics from the World Health Organization.

In Amsterdam, a city tolerant of talking about and trying sex and drugs, activists will be ready with another attention-nabbing campaign for World AIDS Day. While it might not be a supersized condom, it's sure to give locals and tourists something to talk about.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.


EVERT ELZINGA / AFP/GETTY IMAGES




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