AIDS TV advert proved scaring us witless ISN'T the way to beat Covid, writes ...

Do you remember the 'Don't Die Of Ignorance' AIDS advert from the 1980s – the one with the tombstone? I certainly do. I was six and it scared the bejesus out of me. 

The apocalyptic, exploding volcano, clanging noises and terrifying voiceover – Elephant Man actor John Hurt, as it happens: 'There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all. It is a deadly disease, and there is no known cure… anyone can get it, man or woman.'

A huge black monolith with the word AIDS etched on to it topples backward, domino-like, to the floor and, just in case you'd missed the point, a funeral bouquet of lilies falls on to the 'grave' with an audible thud. 

The 1986 government health campaign was designed to raise awareness of the emerging threat of HIV and AIDS. Some scientists claimed the mysterious new virus had an 'explosive' infection rate and projections suggested a million people in Britain could be infected and die within a few years (sound familiar?) (Pictured: Shoppers yesterday in Leeds)

The 1986 government health campaign was designed to raise awareness of the emerging threat of HIV and AIDS. Some scientists claimed the mysterious new virus had an 'explosive' infection rate and projections suggested a million people in Britain could be infected and die within a few years (sound familiar?) (Pictured: Shoppers yesterday in Leeds) 

It was part of a government health campaign that began in 1986 to raise awareness about the emerging threat of HIV and AIDS. Some scientists claimed the mysterious new virus had an 'explosive' infection rate and projections suggested a million people in Britain could be infected and die within a few years (sound familiar?).

My parents, being the only man and woman I knew, were obviously going to get this deadly disease and die, I reasoned with child-logic. There were sleepless nights and tears, as they tried to convince me otherwise.

Watching the ad now, it seems a bit OTT – why a volcano? – and dated. But it was, at the time, deemed by Ministers to have been a huge success. So much so that it really set the bar. Shock tactics and fear-mongering seem the model today when health chiefs want to get a message across.

Over the past few months we've been inundated with letters from readers, distraught and furious about the singular focus on Covid-19 at the expense of all other health concerns – and also highly sceptical of the relentless gloomy messages coming from central Government. 'This is the new Project Fear' is a sentence I've read a fair few times. And I couldn't agree more.

Ministers argue they're following the science, but it seems to reflect a narrow and bleak view. For starters, almost eight months of daily Covid death tolls come devoid of any context – for instance, the thousands who die of other causes. The figures tell us how many go into hospital, are in intensive care and on ventilators, but what of the large numbers who recover? No mention of them.

Over the past few months we've been inundated with letters from readers, distraught and furious about the singular focus on Covid-19 at the expense of all other health concerns ¿ and also highly sceptical of the relentless gloomy messages coming from central Government. 'This is the new Project Fear' is a sentence I've read a fair few times. And I couldn't agree more

Over the past few months we've been inundated with letters from readers, distraught and furious about the singular focus on Covid-19 at the expense of all other health concerns – and also highly sceptical of the relentless gloomy messages coming from central Government. 'This is the new Project Fear' is a sentence I've read a fair few times. And I couldn't agree more

There was 'don't kill granny' and the ever-refreshed 'worst-case scenario' projections. And No 10's horror-movie special-effects department has also been working overtime, coming up with ever more disturbing 'awareness raising' ads.

One, commissioned by the Scottish Government, shows the virus as horrific green slime, covering a woman's face. She's oblivious to it, as is her grandfather, whom she greets with a hug, smearing him with gross virus slime.

Others show corona as clouds of radioactive-looking iridescent smoke, pouring from people's mouths, and smears of toxic Day-Glo paint covering surfaces, while 'real' young people (are they actors? We're not told) say things such as 'I felt like I was close to death, gasping for air'.

Meanwhile, former Government adviser and harbinger of doom Neil Ferguson told an interviewer that 'people will

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