When AIDS gripped the world in 1981, local authorities, healthcare providers and governments quickly reverted to the practices of previous generations and began to zealously use health posters as the way to inform people about the new disease. These public health campaigns continued for over 20 years and still endure in some parts of the world today.
Thomas Hill, a then-Amsterdam based collector, with a personal interest in countercultures, recognised the historical significance of the posters as evidence of the worldwide crisis. The Wellcome Library acquired a vast number of Hill’s collection in 1999. Building on this collection, there are now over 3000 AIDS posters in the Library’s collection, which continues to grow.
The Library’s collection spans 99 countries and 94 languages and wide variety of themes, from the concerns of various social groups to sexual health advice, from information about sexual activities to the physical and social consequences of AIDS, among many others. Notably, some countries such as Russia, China and the majority of Middle Eastern countries are not represented.
The poster collection complements the Library’s rich holdings of ephemera relating to AIDS and the AIDS crisis, such as leaflets and information booklets.
Explore the AIDS posters
All AIDS posters are freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.
Explore the posters in the catalogue