Category: Diseases & Pathogens, Ephemera
History of Medicine The tragedy of the AIDS epidemic brought about an outpouring of items, intended to educate the public about the disease and its consequences. Starting in the early 1980s—AIDS was first identified in 1981—the initial response to the disease generated ephemeral public health materials, such as buttons, posters, cards, comic books, and even lunch boxes. Since AIDS was both incurable and invariably fatal, these messages of prevention were the only effective steps that public health officials could take. Produced by government health departments as well as private organizations, these ephemeral objects became an important medium for messages of awareness, prevention, compassion, and responsibility.