Tough love and critical thinking go hand in hand on the third floor of the Art Center College of Design, in Design matters, an unusual incubator that pairs art students with complicated social issues. Each class is assigned a real-world big client with a real-world big problem — and given 14 weeks to come up with a way to help solve it harnessing the power of art and design.

Long Beach health officials had come to Design matters with a vexing dilemma: how to stem an alarming increase in cases of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV in a generation that seems apathetic, far removed from the last-century fears of the AIDS crisis.

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