When Edward Atwater, M.D.,’50 boarded a subway car on Boston’s Red Line in the early 90s he found himself staring at a poster unlike any he had seen before. It showed two hands, a condom wrapper, and text reading Prevent AIDS. Use One. Intrigued by what he saw, Atwater began to track how different societies viewed and responded to the worldwide epidemic through posters and other public messages, eventually gathering together the largest collection of AIDS posters in the world.
The Atwater collection of AIDS posters is now online, providing a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 to the present. Launched in October during the 30th anniversary year of the identification of the disease, the online exhibit consists of more than 6,200 posters from 100 plus countries in 60 languages. While selections of the posters have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and other locations, the online collection provides the first opportunity to view the collection in its entirety.
To access the Atwater AIDS education posters collection online visit http://aep.lib.rochester.edu/. In addition to searching the posters, the site contains research conducted by Rochester students who have used the collections, an introduction to the collection by Alexander Breier Marr, a doctoral student in visual and cultural studies, and links to additional AIDS educational resources.
Direct to The Atwater Collection of AIDS Posters