The Government's iconic AIDS adverts appeared in 1987. Despite the growing knowledge about HIV and AIDS, newspapers still revelled in peddling myths. In other cases, the newspapers rejoiced in wearing their morality hats.
People were afraid that gay plumbers might infect a cistern. Afraid that you could 'catch AIDS' from Communion wine. Afraid that you could catch HIV from sharing communal baths. In Nottingham, a gay swimming group caused a reaction which was reported in all the main daily papers and practically every provincial paper when schools withdrew pupils from their swimming lessons because they though they would catch AIDS. "Mothers fear AIDS risk" said the headlines. There was no AIDS risk and mothers didn't fear it until the newspapers told them to. To read more about the Nottingham Gay Swimming furore, click HERE.
"The infection’s origins and means of propagation excites repugnance, moral and physical, at promiscuous male homosexuality – conduct which, tolerable in private circumstances, has with the advent of “gay liberation” become advertised, even glorified as acceptable public conduct, even a proud badge for public men to wear." (The Times).
The then-Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, James Anderton, referred to people "swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making".
By 1986, some newspapers saw sense. “The time when the average Spectator reader could think of the AIDS epidemic as being someone else’s problem is past. The disease has spread beyond the high risk groups in which it started and is no longer confined to homosexuals, drug addicts, prostitutes and the victims of contaminated blood transfusions”. Though one could still argue about the idea that AIDS "started" in the high risk groups.