Infected Blood Inquiry: Former Health Secretary Lord Norman Fowler refuses to apologise for ‘Don’t Die Of Ignorance’ AIDS campaign

The architect of one of the country’s most high profile health campaigns has refused to apologise for potentially “vilifying” people infected with HIV through infected blood products.

Lord Norman Fowler served as health secretary from 1981 to 1987 when AIDS was emerging as a deadly global threat.

He was behind the “Don’t Die Of Ignorance” campaign that included a hard-hitting film that used tombstones to drive home the threat of the virus.

The former minister told the Infected Blood Inquiry it was necessary to warn the public of the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

“We may have made mistakes but I don’t think there was too much in that campaign that I feel inclined to apologise about because I think it was probably one of the most successful public education campaigns since the war”, Lord Fowler told the panel.

He was asked by Jenni Richards QC: “Was any consideration, conscious consideration at least, given on what the impact might be on them, this already vilified cohort?

He replied: “You have to make some choices, and the greater choice was first and foremost to actually prevent this epidemic going even further.”

The adverts were aimed at the gay community.

Many thousands of people during the 1970s and 1980s were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through imported contaminated blood products.

Jason Evans told Sky News the campaign continually reminded his sick father Jonathan that he would die soon.

Mr Evans had been infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after using contaminated blood products.

“My mum’s told me stories of him being at the funerals of his friends and him saying ‘I’m going to be next, I know it’, and eventually he was next but that fear of knowing it compounded by the government saying ‘you’re going to die, you were ignorant’ the falling tombstones, the lilies, it was just I think adding insult to injury, and that is putting it really lightly,” he said.

Lord Fowler was asked by Jenni Richards QC: “Do you understand the from the perspective of people sitting at home with young children, husbands, fathers who had been infected because their haemophiliac husband had been?

“They have described a sense of fear that came from many sources but the advertising campaign is a theme that has come up.”

Lord fowler replied: “You have got to make some choices. The greatest choice was first and foremost to actually prevent this epidemic going further and further.”

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