When HIV/AIDS began to spread in the UK during the early 1980s very little was known about the virus. It was not until 1983 that doctors began to gain confidence that the cause of AIDS was infectious. In 1984 doctors discovered that the virus known as HIV was the direct cause of AIDS. That year the number of people diagnosed as living with AIDS in the UK reached over 100 and gay and bisexual men were banned from donating blood, a rule which is still in place for those who have had oral or anal sex with another man in the last twelve months.
By 1987 the numbers of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the UK had risen to well over 1000 and the virus was still poorly understood despite millions of pounds being spent on research. As the growing risk to the population became clear the government launched a public health information campaign which led to the distribution of public health information leaflets to every household in the UK and television adverts depicting tomb stones carved with the word, ‘AIDS’.
By the 1990s the virus was better understood and campaigns moved away from ‘fear tactics’ towards educating people. HIV/AIDS was no longer something to be exclusively feared, but something for people to be educated about and prevented, as shown by these stickers from the mid-1990s.
Kindly donated to the Museum of Liverpool by Andrew Dineley.