The Welch Medical Library is hosting two complementary exhibitions highlighting the illustrated history of public health messaging as a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

These exhibitions will be on display in the second floor gallery of the Welch Medical Library building.
The building is open form 9-5, M-F.

National Library of Medicine Exhibition: 

AIDS, Posters, and Stories of Public Health: A People’s History of a Pandemic

This exhibition explores how AIDS posters serve as highly adaptable, durable, cost effective, efficient tools in sharing public health messaging. Created by communities bonded together by illness and a desire to make change, these posters provide a gateway to AIDS history, illustrating how, in the face of illness, neglect, and, early on, the unknown, people came together to connect, create, and save one another’s lives. Today, AIDS posters continue to be valuable resources for the ongoing epidemic. They teach us about community organizing processes and the ways that groups dealing with HIV heal, share fears, and strategize toward wellness together.

AIDS, Posters, and Stories of Public Health: A People’s History of a Pandemic includes selected AIDS posters from Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture, the 2013 exhibition about the history of HIV/AIDS in the United States.

The Exhibition Program

By creating exhibitions about the social and cultural history of science and medicine, we encourage visitors of all ages to learn more about themselves and their communities. These exhibitions and supportive resources engage diverse audiences and connect visitors to National Library of Medicine trusted health information resources.

Patricia Tuohy
Head, Exhibition Program

Julie Botnick
Exhibition Technical Information Specialist

Jiwon Kim
Exhibition Educator

Carissa Lindmark
Traveling Exhibition Assistant

Erika Mills
Community Outreach Coordinator

Jane Markowitz
Traveling Exhibition Services Coordinator

Tannaz Motevalli
Exhibition Coordinator


Theodore (Ted) Kerr
Guest Curator
Writer, Organizer, and Founding Member of What Would an HIV Doula Do?

Creative Services

Link Studio
Website Design & Development

HealyKohler Design
Exhibition Design

Education Contributors

Eric W. Boyle, PhD
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, DC

Special Acknowledgements
History of Medicine Division

Jeffrey Reznick, PhD
Chief, History of Medicine Division

Kenneth Koyle
Deputy Chief

Allison Cao
Web Program, Pathways Student

Lindsay Franz
Systems Librarian

Elizabeth Mullen
Manager of Web Development and Social Media

Ginny Roth
Manager of Prints and Photographs


Office of Computer and Communications Systems

Wei Ma
Chief, Applications Branch

Winston Churchill
Applications Branch

Joe Potvin
Applications Branch

Ying Sun
Applications Branch


Public Services Division

Jean (Bob) Edouard
Collection Access Section



Johns Hopkins Medicine Exhibition: 

Spreading the Word: HIV/AIDS Education and the People’s Health

The CDC reported the first cases of AIDS on June 5, 1981. In 1985, scientists confirmed that AIDS was caused by a virus, later named the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Since the first reported cases of the disease, HIV/AIDS has killed some 40 million worldwide.

In response to the pandemic, activists, artists, community-health organizations, public health experts, and healthcare professionals created a variety of visually engaging materials that sought to educate the public about the disease and its prevention. In other instances, HIV/AIDS became the subject of specific pieces of art and popular culture.

On display are two complimentary exhibits highlighting examples of these visually engaging materials. The National Library of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, AIDS Posters and Stories of Public Health: A People’s History of a Pandemic, highlights the cultural output of community workers, activists, and artists who sought to educate the public about HIV/AIDSIn the exhibit Spreading the Word: HIV/AIDS Education and the People’s Health, 1983-2001, visitors will see how different types of print media and images were used in public-health initiatives, AIDS education, art, and popular culture in the United States from 1983 to 2001. These media and images range from public health posters and pamphlets to graphic novels and comic books.

Both exhibits encourage us to think about how HIV/AIDS messaging has changed over time and to interrogate how some of the messaging was delivered. The exhibits remind us, too, about the impact HIV/AIDS has had on the lives of people in the U.S. and beyond. The exhibits also stand as another important reminder. Despite the historical material on display, HIV/AIDS is not a thing of the past.

Exhibit designed by: Jason M. Chernesky, Terri Hatfield, and Michael Seminara