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Posters present a visual history of AIDS epidemic

November 30, 2017
Dr. Atwater stands in front of a table covered in AIDS health postersCollected by retired physician Edward C. Atwater '50, an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the AIDS posters housed at the University's Rare Books and Special Collections provide a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

World AIDS Day events

Stephen Dewhurst, Dean’s Professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Bill Valenti, clinical associate professor of medicine and senior vice president for organizational advancement for Trillium Health, will are scheduled to take part in a discussion about World AIDS Day on WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson at 1 p.m. Listen live or at 1370AM.

The University’s Center for AIDS Research will host a World AIDS Day scientific symposium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Class of ’62 Auditorium (G-9425), Medical Center.

The Medical Center’s HIV Clinic will be selling holiday ornaments at Café 601 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to benefit the clinic’s HIV Treatment Fund.

For decades, Edward Atwater ’50, a professor emeritus of medicine at the Medical Center, has collected medical history artifacts. In 2007, he began turning his collection of more than 8,000 AIDS education posters over to the University.

The AIDS Education Poster Collection, housed in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, is one of the world’s largest single collections of visual resources related to the disease. The posters date from the onset of the epidemic in 1981 to the present day.

Jessica Lacher-Feldman, assistant dean and Joseph N. Lambert & Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, is still surprised at how people use the collection, in the classroom and for research.

“It’s remarkable to see how many different ways students use them in their work,” she says. “Everything from linguistics to anthropology to foreign language classes that use them for translation. It’s amazing.” The posters come from 120 different countries and represent 76 different languages.

For the fall of 2019, says Lacher-Feldman, the libraries are partnering with the Memorial Art Gallery for a large exhibit tentatively titled “Graphic Art in Global Health.” The curators plan to open the show at the MAG and then take it to other museums across the country.

This year’s most visited posters

The sample presented here represents only a small cross-section taken from the most popular posters in the online collection. Click on each poster to visit that item in the online collection and browse more posters like it.

“Deluxe Nirodh.” Population Services International, India.
This poster was the most visited in the online AIDS Education Posters collection in the past year.

“Ignorance=Fear.” 1989, Keith Haring, Act UP, New York.

“He Didn’t Use A Condom.” Alfred University, New York.

“How Many People Did You Say You’d Slept With?” 1992, Scottish AIDS Monitor, Edinburgh.

“Ruin Of A Nation Begins In The Homes Of Its People. Ghanaian Proverb.” American Red Cross.

“Si Da, No Da. No Cambies Tu Vida Por El Sida.” 1990, Spain Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Madrid.

“Red Ribbon Sellers Required.” 1998, Victorian AIDS Council, Australia.

“You Cannot Get HIV Or AIDS… 1992, Provincial AIDS Committee, Alberta Health Department, Canada.

“Hot Sex, Hard Facts And Healthy Relationships.” 1995, Stop AIDS Project, San Francisco.

“AIDS Destroys More Lives Than You Think.” 1991, Singapore Ministry of Health

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Category: Society & Culture