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“One hell of a state” | Episode 2

“One hell of a state” | Episode 2

By Tash Walker, Adam Zmith and Shivani Dave

Tash and Adam continue exploring the HIV/AIDS crisis through the calls made to Switchboard from 1983 to 1991, in this second of three episodes on the subject. This episode contains memories of Switchboard volunteer Mark Ashton, more from George, and further log book entries from the anonymous volunteer looking for others with an HIV diagnosis. We also have untold stories about the UK government’s official public health campaign from 1987 and words from Dr Tristan Barber on the status of HIV prevention and treatment today.

Content warning: Illness, death, and ill-treatment and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Transcript here.

The Log Books — stories from Britain’s LGBT+ history and conversations about being queer today. Produced by Shivani Dave, Tash Walker and Adam Zmith, in partnership with Switchboard - the LGBT+ helpline. With thanks to the Bishopsgate Institute and the BFI National Archive.

TV clip from Daytime: AIDS produced by Thames TV, 02/07/1988. TV ad clip from the UK government campaign AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign produced in 1987. 

For more information about the themes in this episode, take a look at:

From organisations:

All about HIV from the Terrence Higgins Trust

All about PrEP from Prepster

National Aids Trust, the UK’s HIV rights charity

Positively UK, advocates for and supporters of people living with HIV

Positive East, health and wellbeing for people living with HIV

The National AIDS Map, which grew out of Switchboard!

Tonic Living, which seeks to build LGBT+ affirming retirement communities


BBC Horizon Killer in the Village from 1983


From Probably True with Scott Flashheart:

Doctor part 1 

Doctor part 2



Policing Desire by Simon Watney

The End of Innocence by Simon Garfield 

AIDS: Don’t Die of Prejudice by Norman Fowler

Music by Tom Foskett-Barnes

Artwork by Natalie Doto

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