Annually on December 1st, World AIDS Day energizes the public to unite in the fight against AIDS and to commemorate those individuals who have lost their lives to the disease. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
The AIDS and HIV collection is one of the most comprehensive and utilized of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)’s historical prints and photographs collections. It consists of posters and a wide range of ephemera including pamphlets, postcards, bookmarks, pins, comic books, ribbons, and stickers. This collection is unique in its variety of outreach and educational materials, diversity of target audiences, and international reach. One example among many now available to researchers is a leaflet shaped like a bleach bottle (below). It was developed to be distributed to IV drug users to educate them on how to properly clean syringes and improve the safety of sharing needles.
We prioritized cataloging and digitizing this collection as part of an overall NIH initiative to increase awareness of and disseminate information about AIDS and HIV. Currently, approximately 2/3 of the collection (nearly 2,000 items) is fully processed. Prints & Photographs staff cataloged, digitized, and have made these items available in NLM Digital Collections. We have now processed the remaining ~1000 items, all of which will soon be available in NLM Digital Collections.
Moving forward, we continue to acquire and make available new HIV and AIDS-related materials and identify related materials in unprocessed collections. Here is a gallery of images on the topics of HIV and AIDS recently added to the Images from the History of Medicine collection in NLM Digital Collections.
Postcard featuring a color illustration of a red awareness ribbon in a vertical, white postage stamp. This real stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service for World AIDS Day in 1993. National Library of Medicine #101732868
White, round paper fan with wooden handle handed out to the public by members of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). The back of the fan lists 2 hotlines; one to an HIV/AIDS information line and one to volunteer at GMHC. National Library of Medicine #101716804
Newspaper article from the New York Times, Sunday, May 7, 1995 issue written by Andrea Kannapell, about the comic strip “Decision” that ran in New York City subways in the 1990s. National Library of Medicine #101717939
Cover of the comic book “AIDS news,” an AIDS education tool. The cover image is a color illustration featuring people of various ethnicities walking on a street, 1988. National Library of Medicine #101722615
Greeting card with a close-up photograph of a sunflower. On the verso is a strip of 3 black and white photos taken photo-booth style, that show a young man and a young woman showing affection for one another, 1991. National Library of Medicine #101716709
Plastic telephone calling card issued for World AIDS Day in France, December 1, 1992. The calling card (télécarte) is worth 50 units. The card was created to encourage people to call the anonymous and free AIDS hotline listed on the back of the card, 1992. National Library of Medicine #101725625
Invitation in the form of a greeting card from The Galerie St. Etienne in honor of the opening of an exhibition by artist Sue Coe called, “We all fall down.” The work, created with graphite, charcoal, and gouache, is called, “Kaposi’s Sarcoma.” The image features an AIDS patient covered with Kaposi’s Sarcoma lesions. The patient is being treated by a doctor who is standing behind the patient, examining his back and touching the lesions with bare hands, 1993. National Library of Medicine #101725882
Advertisement for Trojan condoms, created by the Orange County Center for Health. Ad features a black and white photo reproduction of an unopened Trojan condom, ca. 1993. National Library of Medicine #101733753
Black and white postcard created by the New York City Public Art Fund featuring a photo reproduction of a young woman sitting in a subway car holding magazines. The AIDS poster, “General Idea ‘AIDS'” hangs directly behind her, 1989. National Library of Medicine #101732410
Black and white newspaper advertisement from the New York Times. “… from the pro bono Ads Against AIDS program’s print campaign aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of the disease.” — New York Times ad caption, April 21, 1992 edition. National Library of Medicine #101733946
Multi-color magazine spread showing 200 stamp-like pictures of chairs with names of AIDS victims in the fashion industry. All the chairs are light brown within a square of color with the name and occupation of the AIDS victim. This advertisement was printed in The New Yorker, November 7, 1994 issue. National Library of Medicine #101733711
Advertisement created by the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo in Madrid, featuring a male symbol (Mars) with arms and legs. He is holding a condom and giving a thumbs up sign. The message conveys that a person can avoid being infected with AIDS by using condoms, ca 1990. National Library of Medicine #101714878
Image of a pin-back button created by Beowulf Thorne. On the front of the black button there are two wide red stripes crossed at an angle, and in the center is a picture of a Retrovir 100 mg capsule. On the button it says, “I survived AZT,” ca. 1990. National Library of Medicine #101722423
Cover of the comic book “Strip AIDS,” a comic anthology. The cover features 9 colored, crude images depicting human figures. The anthology includes short comics with educational and sometimes comedic themes, that educate readers about HIV and safe sex. The comic book seeks to raise funds for the care of people with AIDS, 1987. National Library of Medicine #101719983
Multi-color advertisement showing 51 lithographs representing each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. Each artist incorporated a bottle of Absolut Vodka into a design that captured the “spirit of their home states,” 1994. National Library of Medicine #101717714
Round sticker advertising the AIDS Memorial Quilt display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on October 11-13, 1996. In the center of the sticker is a picture of a sewing needle that is threaded with a red thread curved into the shape of an AIDS ribbon, 1996. National Library of Medicine #101724647