Watch people’s reactions to the AIDS ‘tombstone’ ad from the 80s

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“It felt to me like it was gonna turn into a zombie movie…”

In 1986 the government released an ad campaign that ‘struck fear’ into the hearts of the whole country.

The focus of the campaign was a video featuring the words: ‘AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance’ being carved into a giant tombstone.

While the monolith like structure falls to the ground, volcanos erupt and the actor John Hurt says ominously in a voiceover: “There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all. It is a deadly disease and there is no known cure.”

Since the AIDS monolith advert however, there’s been no comparable major government campaign about what HIV means in today.

Ahead of World AIDS Day 2016, almost exactly thirty years after the ‘tombstone’ ad was first broadcast across Britain, Terrence Higgins Trust showed the video to seven people.

Some of those were around when the ad was first shown: “This brings back scary memories, to when I was fourteen,” comments one man. “This is ominous,” says another who hasn’t seen the video before.

What follows is a frank and honest discussion about HIV and the stigma that is still so prevalent in all communities.

“People don’t even know what the difference is between HIV and AIDS is,” comments one person. While another adds: “What hasn’t changed… Is the stigma.”

You can watch the full reaction video right here:

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Watching the reactions to the tombstones campaign, thirty years on, shows how far we’ve come since the 1980s, but also how far we’ve got to go before we eradicate the fear and stigma that continue to surround HIV in 2016. On World AIDS Day, we’re saying #ItsNotOver. We’re still fighting, still caring, and still wearing our red ribbons with pride.”

Find out more about World AIDS Day at or search #itsnotover.



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