In pictures: AIDS posters

An extra from One virus, four lives: the reality of being HIV positive

A historical 18-image gallery of AIDS awareness posters from around the world.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

A man’s midriff with open jeans and a hand holding a condom; promotion for safe sex by the Connecticut Department of Health Services. Colour lithograph, c.1990s.

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A condom incorporated within the words “True Love”; advertisement by the State of California AIDS Education Campaign. Lithograph, c.1999.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

A ball with a message indicating that AIDS is not transmitted in public swimming pools; a poster from the ‘America Responds to AIDS’ advertising campaign. Colour lithograph, c.1990s.

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The words “Respect Yourself Protect Yourself” against a background map of Africa; advertisement for the African American HIV/AIDS Program by the American Red Cross. Colour lithograph, 1990. 

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Traffic lights with three condoms (red, yellow and green) for lights, representing protection against AIDS. Colour lithograph after M Kolvenbach and G Meyer, c.1990s.

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A snow-capped mountain wearing a pink condom as a hat; a safe-sex advertisement for condoms produced by The Hot Rubber Company (Zurich). Colour lithograph, c.1990s.

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Four rows of washing lines on which are hung a variety of coloured condoms; advertisement for safe sex by Wizard & Genius-Idealdecor. Colour lithograph by Marco Pellanda, 1992.

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An elephant wearing a condom on its raised trunk running across a desert;  advertisement for safe sex by Wizard & Genius-Idealdecor. Colour lithograph by Meiklejohn Graphics, 1993.

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Two rows of Olympic-coloured condoms; advertisement for safe sex by the Terrence Higgins Trust for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Colour lithograph, 1998.

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A pink microscope depicting a magnified view of HIV against a black and red background with Maldivian (Divehi) lettering; advertisement for safe sex to prevent AIDS. Colour lithograph, c.1996.

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Two hands wrapping around each other to form the shape of the AIDS red ribbon, against a grainy backdrop of the world and within a circle inscribed with the slogan “Shared Rights. Shared Responsibilities”; an advertisement by the Kenya National AIDS/STD Control Programme, part of the Kenyan Ministry of Health. Colour lithograph, c.1997.

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A range of different condoms in the guise of a variety of professions or types, from “The Doctor” to “The Cautious Type”; advertisement for safe sex for all by Verkerke Copyright & Licensing GMBH. Colour lithograph by Didi Groen, 1988.

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A pink condom and the ‘VW’ logo for Volkswagen, the automobile manufacturer, positioned side by side as if two wheels of a car, establishing an analogy between their safety features, and with text promoting the safety standards of the new VW Golf. Humour is derived from the double meaning of “Verkehr” as both traffic and sexual intercourse. Colour lithograph by GGK Basel, c.1990s.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

A skeleton holding up a sign bearing the warning “AIDS: The Death Warrant!”; an AIDS prevention advertisement by the Central Health Education Bureau in New Delhi. Colour lithograph, c.1990s.

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A large personified condom stands triumphantly on personified versions of HIV, who cry out for help, with rays of sunshine in the background; a safe-sex advertisement by the AIDS Unit, Department of Health, Government of Hong Kong. Colour lithograph, c.1995.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

A bird within a golden vessel emitting red flames and appearing to hang from a chain from the sky with a rainbow beyond; an anti-AIDS advertisement. Colour lithograph, c.1997.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

Two tape measures with their rules pulled out and folded back to create the effect of ‘damning eyes’; a warning about discrimination against workmates with AIDS by the AIDS Unit, Department of Health, Government of Hong Kong. Colour lithograph, c. 1998.

CC-BY-NC: Wellcome Library, London

A pink triangle against a black backdrop with the words “Silence = Death”; advertisement for the Silence = Death Project, used by permission by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Colour lithograph, 1987.

AIDS poster slideshow