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30 years and still counting: slowing the spread of HIV in a complex world – UCL Lunch Hour Lecture at the British Museum

By news editor, on 20 June 2011

This Lunch Hour Lecture by Professor Anne Johnson (UCL Infectious Disease and Epidemiology) took place at the British Museum on Thursday 16 June, poignantly almost thirty years to the day from when AIDS was first described writes Sarah Longair, Schools and Young Audiences Education Manager, British Museum.

Professor Johnson’s lecture examined the changing responses and attitudes to HIV and AIDS, visible through the media, public health initiatives and research. Her insights drew on her involvement in the field for over 25 years.

From the iconic AIDS tombstone campaign in the mid-1980s and Princess Diana’s famous handshake with an AIDS patient to the education measures across sub-Saharan Africa, this fascinating overview of the history of the disease also reflected the social history of the last three decades.

The statistics were illuminating and sobering – while Britain has been one of the countries which successfully reduced the rate of infection in the mid-1980s, the figure is now greater than it was then. While anti-retro viral medication has transformed the lives of those who have access to them, allowing them to live with the disease, it also is out of reach of millions of those living with HIV and AIDS across the world.

Professor Johnson made clear that it was only through a combined approach – which took account of the behaviour of the population, the ecology of organisms and the socio-economic environment – that incidence of the disease can be kept under control.

Watch Professor Johnson’s lecture at the British Museum (45 minutes):

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