The former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher has resisted an AIDS awareness campaign, revealed a new report.
The National Archives have now released a set of files showing how the prime minister hesitated to initiate a public awareness campaign to warn youngsters about the dangers of risky sex.
‘Margaret Thatcher had restricted a public awareness campaign on AIDS which highlighted the dangers of risky sex and advised people to have safe sex in UK.’
She backed down after advisers and ministers warned hundreds of thousands could be infected by the AIDS virus if they failed to change their lifestyles.
After five years of reporting its first AIDS case, the awareness of the disease was increasing in the UK. But Thatcher was not keen on the health secretary's plan for a newspaper campaign with advice on "safe sex."
She scrawled in a note: "Do we have to do the section on risky sex? I should have thought it could do immense harm if young teenagers were to read it. I think the anxiety on the part of parents and many teenagers who would never be in danger from Aids, exceeds the good it may do... adverts where every young person will read and hear of practices they never knew about will do harm."
But the health secretary insisted that advice on safe sex must be included particularly in relation to gay men without which the advert would lose "all its medical authority and credibility."
The cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, warned her: "If there is no change in habits and practices, particularly but not exclusively among those currently most at risk (homosexual and bisexual men and drug misusers), there could at the end of five years be half a million infected carriers of whom a substantial number would subsequently develop the disease; and that is a sober estimate."
At first she objected but later gave in when many ministers did not support her decision. Finally the advert was sent to all homes across the country.