HIV and AIDS Today


HIV and AIDS Today


Since the first reports thirty years ago, the illness has become chronic and manageable as effective multi-drug treatments have reduced mortality. The AIDS crisis spurred new knowledge of retroviruses and the human immune system, the development of new laboratory techniques, and faster drug approval.

In addition, HIV and AIDS shifted sexual practices and the role of sex in identity. LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) became more accepted in society. Awareness of sexually transmitted infections made “safe sex” a familiar term and an expected behavior. AIDS drew attention to the interplay of poverty, race, and addiction with disease. The art and media created around the loss and tragedy profoundly influenced cultural practices and aesthetics.

Collection Items

Beaded AIDS ribbon
A red over-lapping ribbon indicates support for people with HIV and AIDS. It was the 1991 creative brain-child of artist-activist Frank C. Moore, II, who died of AIDS in 2002.

Yellow Sharps Container
Inventors have developed products to reduce the risk of infection. Health care workers now routinely disable or dispose of used needles in secure “sharps” containers.

Giant HIV microbe
As illustrated by this plush toy virus, fear of HIV infection is not what it was thirty years ago.

POZ magazine
POZ magazine serves a specific consumer group—people who are HIV positive.

Newsweek, 1/17/2000, AIDS in Africa—10 million orphans
Over time, the international implications of the epidemic became clear. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 33 million people around the world are living with the virus; 22.5 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite all we…

Needle exchange plaque
Still controversial, needle exchange programs designed to reduce the use of HIV-contaminated needles began appearing around 1985. This street-art plaque connects the needles used by addicts to homelessness and poverty.
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