Sex, Drugs And HIV-Phobia: 10 Lessons From Early AIDS Awareness Posters

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1989 – This Is How AIDS Victims See Themselves
created by James Thorpe

In 1987, the Food and Drug Administration finally approved Retrovir, a breakthrough AZT-based drug that successfully slowed the spread HIV and AIDS within the body. But hopes for worldwide access got quickly dashed when Burroughs Wellcome, the pharmaceutical company behind the drug, announced the cost—$188 per bottle—approximately $7,000-$10,000 per year.

The ACT-UP demonstrations, media coverage and congressional hearings that soon followed shamed the company into slashing Retrovir’s cost by 40 percent within two years. But in the meanwhile, people living with AIDS still had to face a series of personal, psychological and financial losses at the hands of their phobic associates.

Here, the AIDS victim becomes a dehumanized target surrounded by an ever-tightening circle of devastating personal blows, reminding HIV-negative audiences about the relatable, day-to-day challenges faced by infected indviduals.