As the AIDS epidemic spread, activists criticized the Reagan administration for ineffectively responding to the disease. In particular, they were concerned that the administration was underfunding AIDS research and obstructing prevention efforts by opposing sex education. These concerns were exacerbated by Reagan’s public silence about the disease until 1987, when he made his first speech on the subject. Later that year, Reagan yielded to pressure from Congress and organized the Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic. However, scientists and AIDS activists were skeptical of the recommendations the commission’s appointed members would provide to the President due to their lack of expertise. For the third in a series of demonstrations that ACT UP organized against the commission, Donald Moffett made this poster of Reagan, with words that concisely communicated the group’s thoughts about the President’s effect on AIDS patients. (1253.2000)
Unidentified Artist, 1968/1988, 1988 (1174.2000)
The Tet Offensive in Vietnam
May ’68 riots in France
Andy Warhol’s Flesh
The whole world watches the Democratic Convention in Chicago
Martin Luther King is assassinated
Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated
Tommie Smith & John Carlos make a Black Power salute while receiving their medals at the Mexico City Olympics
Queers still invisible, in 1969 drag queens attack police in Stonewall riot – gay lib is born
Rubber glove manufacturers increase production by 400%
Helms Ammendment approved, prohibiting educational materials which promote or condone IV drug use and gay sex
Andy Warhol’s estate yields millions in Sotheby’s auction
100,410 with AIDS worldwide
38,000 dead from AIDS in America
Media compares AIDS with Vietnam, stating that more are dead from AIDS than killed in Vietnam. Comparison excludes Vietnamese killed in war.
NYC Health Commissioner Stephen Joseph slashes estimate of gay AIDS cases by 400% – weeks before the creation of a 1989 budget.
Painting of Harold Washington in bra and panties is arrested – makes international news
Unidentified Artist, Serial Killer, 1990 (1176.2000)
This is one of the many ACT UP posters that targeted politicians whose response to the AIDS epidemic was inadequate during the early years of its spread. The criticism levied against President Bush in the poster’s text was widespread and was not limited to AIDS activists only. In a speech given just prior to President Bush’s first public address about the disease on March 29, 1990, the chairman of Levi Strauss & Company stated that if there was no direction from the White House, all of the efforts of the private sector would have little effect. These criticisms continued even after Bush’s speech: nearly a month later, the National Commission on AIDS stated that the government was failing in coordinating an AIDS response. The commission recommended that the Bush administration give emergency relief to cities hardest hit by the virus, pass a law making AIDS discrimination by employers illegal, remove restrictions hindering the creation of straightforward educational material, and provide funds for housing people affected by the disease. Out of these measures, the administration only supported making discrimination illegal. (1176.2000)
Unidentified Artist, 114,000 AIDS Deaths, ca. 1993 (1260.2000)
“The AIDS Graphics collection was purchased by ICP in 2000. Various artists and collectives including ACT UP, Gran Fury, WHAM!, Richard Deagle, and Fierce Pussy, made this group of over 300 posters, stickers, pamphlets, photographs, and laser prints during the 1980s and early 1990s in response to the AIDS crisis.” (AIDS Graphics Biography.) There are additional selections from ICP’s AIDS Graphics Archive available online.
World AIDS Day
1 December 2017
World AIDS Day is celebrated around the world on December 1st each year. It has become one of the most recognized international health days and a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
The global HIV epidemic claimed fewer lives in 2015 than at any point in almost twenty years. Prevention programmes reduced the number of new HIV infections per year to 2.1 million in 2015, a 35% decline in incidence since 2000. The massive expansion of antiretroviral therapy has reduced the number of people dying of HIV related causes to approximately 1.1 million 2015 – 45% fewer than in 2005.
Having achieved the global target of halting and reversing the spread of HIV, world leaders have set the 2020 “Fast-Track” targets to accelerate the HIV response and to END AIDS BY 2030. (World Health Organization)