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'Worrying Isn't it?', poster relating to HIV and AIDS, London, England, 1988-1995

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As part of an HIV / AIDS awareness campaign that featured in newspapers and magazines, two identical pictures were placed on consecutive pages. Presented with an image of a young attractive woman and the suggestion that turning the page will reveal their appearance after several years living with the HIV virus, many readers will have been surprised with the result. She looks exactly the same. In the early years of the HIV / AIDS epidemic, there was a widespread public belief that individuals who carried the virus could be identified by their physical appearance. They would somehow ‘look ill’. These images were part of a government backed campaign developed by the Health Education Authority in England. It attempted to promote awareness that the virus was not restricted to particular groups and that those carrying it were quite likely to be young, healthy and attractive. The original image was taken by leading British photographer, David Bailey.

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Glossary: poster

Notice, usually printed on paper, intended to be posted to advertise, promote, or publicise an activity, cause, product, or service; also, decorative, mass-produced prints intended for hanging.

Glossary: AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease caused by infections resulting from a weakened immune system due to the HIV virus. It leads to failure of the immune system and is usually fatal. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

Glossary: HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens vital cells in the immune system, and leads to AIDS. There are two strands: HIV-1, which leads to immunity suppression; and HIV-2, which is not as potent and is only common in West Africa. HIV is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.