'AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance' campaign

First cases of AIDS

The first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were detected in the United States among gay men, and then in injecting drug users, who acquired a rare infection occurring in people with compromised immune systems.

By 1983, cases of AIDS had been reported among non-drug using women and children, leading experts to suggest that AIDS was infectious. By 1984, gay men were asked to stop donating blood and scientists identified the virus (HIV) that caused AIDS.

HIV testing was introduced in 1985, with the first UK public health campaign launched the following year.

Public health campaign

A global programme on AIDS was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986. In 1987, the UK launched the hard-hitting campaign 'Don't die of ignorance'.

Leaflets were delivered to every home in the country and public information broadcasts were screened. Princess Diana opened the first HIV ward in a UK hospital and was pictured holding the hand of a patient with AIDS. 


Central Office of Information for Department of Health.
Public Information Films: AIDs Monolith.
The National Archives; 1987.

BBC News.
Timeline: 25 years of HIV/Aids.
BBC; 2006.

Berridge V, Gorsky M, Mold A.
Public health in history.
Open University Press; 2011.