Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New learning resource showcasing the historic archive collections of Edinburgh and Lothian’s campaign against HIV/AIDS.

On World AIDS Day (1st December), Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) announces the start of a project to catalogue its historic collections relating to Edinburgh and Lothian’s fight against HIV and AIDS between 1980 and 2000.

LHSA has collected a significant amount of material relating to HIV and AIDS over the past 20 years covering all aspects of the local response to this disease. The collections are of outstanding national significance and represent an un-paralleled insight into the history of HIV and AIDS in Lothian and in Scotland generally.

The scope of the collections is wide and provides information on how different demographics were affected by the disease, and how the local health board tackled the outbreak in light of the affect on these different social groups. The collections include the official record of Lothian Health Board, in particular the hugely memorable "Take Care" Campaign but also those of campaigning organisations and charities. The type of material included in the collections is varied, from official reports and correspondence to eye-catching publicity resources including postcards, balloons, badges, and even condoms.

In total, the collections contain c. 5,000 individual items and use c. 80 linear metres of shelving. In cataloguing these collections LHSA will make them more accessible to the public for research. The end result will be an extremely important learning resource for the future. It is estimated that the catalogues will be completed and made available on LHSA’s website by May 2011. 

Assistant Archivist, Alison Scott, who is cataloguing the collections said "What makes the work on these collections interesting is the range of responses to HIV/AIDS - from a local charity like the Leith Community Drugs Project to publications from the Department of Health. Having these collections broadens what people think our archive does".

Dr Coyle, who recently completed her PhD in this area stated: "LHSA's HIV/AIDS related collections are a rich, varied and unique source, which offer insights into the local response to an epidemic disease and how this compared to responses on a national and international level. The material was extremely important for the purposes of my own research, which sought to determine differences between local and national perceptions of AIDS, revealing the significance of local factors in shaping policy, especially the medical response. These collections provide great scope to future researchers interested in the dynamics of local-national and international health policy decision-making processes, as well as relations between the state and voluntary organisations".

Online exhibition of Take Care campaign publicity material