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Surviving & Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture

You Can’t Get AIDS from…

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Since the first announcements about AIDS appeared in the early 1980s, myths have persisted alongside the epidemic, and rumors have accompanied emerging scientific ideas about the disease. First was the powerful stigma attached to the 4 H’s—homosexuals, Haitians, hemophiliacs, and heroin-IV drug users—those initially believed to be at risk for contracting AIDS. Then came unfounded concerns about catching AIDS from drinking fountains, toilet seats, handshakes, and hugs. The campaigns collected here were designed by AIDS service organizations to dispel major myths about who could contract the disease and raise awareness about how it spread. By directly confronting AIDS myths and rumors, these efforts ensured that more people understood that AIDS was not a punishment or a disease that only affected “at-risk” populations: it was something that required everyone to think and respond to in healthful ways.