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2008 JULY–AUGUST No. 363
August 08, 2008 [posted]

AIDS Ephemera - New NLM® Web Site

graphical image of the letter T

The History of Medicine Division of the NLM is pleased to announce our newest Web site, AIDS Ephemera, based on an exhibit of that name at the NLM from November 2002 to June 2003.

AIDS was first identified in 1981 and the initial response to the disease generated ephemeral public health materials, such as buttons (see Figure 1), posters, cards, comic books, and even lunch boxes. Since AIDS was both incurable and invariably fatal, these messages of prevention were the only effective steps public health officials could take.

Produced by government health departments as well as private organizations, these ephemeral objects became an important medium for messages of awareness, prevention, compassion, and responsibility. Buttons and posters provided information on disease symptoms and safe practices, while comic books spun tales of the consequences of risky sex and needle sharing.

The materials for this Web site are drawn from the NLM Prints and Photographs collection. Many donors contributed these materials—we wish to take special note of the contributions of William H. Helfand, who, as a consultant to the Library, organized and carried out a project to secure AIDS posters from the many agencies and organizations that were producing and distributing them in the 1980s and '90s.

By Cheri Smith
History of Medicine Division

Smith C. AIDS Ephemera - New NLM® Web Site. NLM Tech Bull. 2008 Jul-Aug; (363):e12.

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