On my little research spree last night I learned among other things that the AIDS awareness commercial that Joe sees in Pride actually existed like that.
But it was really made and widely shown in 1986. The voice over was by John Hurt. And historians think that the clip among other measures was very successful in spreading awareness about the disease and helping people to protect themselves.
Apart from the commercial there were leaflets that were distributed to all British households and infomercials about how you can get AIDS and how to use condoms.
That happened mainly in 1986 and 87. And it seemed to have worked because after that there were considerably fewer new cases of AIDS than in 1985. There were also considerably fewer new cases in Britain than in other western European countries at that time period.
But obviously that was too little too late for many members of the gay community. Most of them who died, got AIDS between 1980 and 85 when it didn’t have a medical name or definition at first and when even scientists and doctors didn’t know much about it.
In 1984 and 85 when Pride is set it was clear to most people who were at risk, i.e. gay men and haemophiliacs, that the diseased could be passed on through sexual acts and through the blood. Society as a whole was even less knowledgeable thus people suffering of AIDS and gay men were discriminated because people would think they were contagious. Among the gay community there was a culture of denial because the disease couldn’t be cured so it was rather devastating to know that you had it.
In some cases the side effects of the treatment were even worse than the disease. Hospital staff was disgusted by or afraid of the patients. Often partners and friends were not allowed to see their loved ones in hospital.
Among most people there was a general believe that gay and bisexual people weren’t victims. They only got what they deserved for their lifestyle and promiscuity. In Pride this point of view is shown through Joe’s brother in law.
The reason Jonathan has survived is probably that he has some kind of immunity. Today it is known that there is a certain gene mutation that results in being immune to AIDS or slowing down the way it progresses.
All in all there was an atmosphere of fear and desperation because sui many people were dying, the lack of knowledge and the lack of sympathy and help from the rest of society.