How a Conservative Minister in the 1980’s probably saved your life.

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At the beginning of the 1980’s the words HIV/AIDS were non-existent outside of the medical community that was suddenly finding a new disease that attacked the body’s immune system. It stripped away everything that the body had to fight common infections and the cold virus. With the body left defenceless death from these normally perfectly treatable illnesses was certain. It appeared to manifest itself in Gay men primarily and the users of intravenous drugs. Until it was identified haemophiliacs were also being found with the disease, regardless of sexual preference or drug use. It was also becoming an issue in outwardly heterosexual people who were bisexual and actively practicing both sides of their sexual orientation. The disease was soon called a pandemic with a very real chance of rising to an epidemic. There was already a huge amount of misinformation circling about the disease; it could be caught from door handles and toilet seats for example. A bold and radical approach was needed. The problem was the Government at the time were more concerned about being bold and radical with the transfer to a monetary market. Society was not on the agenda at all.

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We are very lucky to live in an age where we can check our sexual health by using an STI test London company such as checkurself.org.uk/plus/home_sti_kits/ . Back in the 1980’s everything was channelled through your GP. The disease carried a massive stigma but luckily the Health Secretary at the time Norman Fowler was, at 47, one of the more youthful members of the Thatcher Government. Despite admitting being ignorant of gay culture and certainly not having any gay friends he still felt strongly that this group should not be ignored or that HIV should be allowed to take them. He faced opposition in the cabinet. The Prime Minister and some of the cabinet had the 1950’s blinkered view that if you made the youth aware of sex and drugs they would go and do it, ignoring the fact they already were.

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Fowler knew he had to come up with something direct and dramatic that did not create widespread panic or put more store in any of the nonsense stories doing the rounds in the press and on the streets. He had witness first-hand the destruction of the disease around the world and he was determined to stop it. This and the conjecture for medical experts telling him that the situation could see millions infected spurred him on.

“AIDS. Don’t die of ignorance” was born.

 

 

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