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1986: BBC Aids slogan angers church

Church leaders have condemned a radio campaign about Aids for "condoning promiscuity".

A Church of England Bishop has joined Roman Catholic authorities in criticising the "Play Safe" slogan on sexual relationships as showing a disregard for morals.

The campaign aims to encourage people to have only one sexual partner and to use a condom as protection against diseases.

The BBC campaign is estimated to reach 40 million people when it is aired on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4 this week.

'Flippant attitude'

It comes as the government launches its own campaign to raise awareness of preventative measures against the disease with the slogan - "Aids: Don't die of ignorance".

Monsignor Vincent Nicholls, Catholic Bishop's Conference, said the campaigns encouraged a flippant attitude towards sexual relationships.

"That seems to me to quite deplorable because the words suggest that sex is something you play around with and if you are going to play around with it then we had better play safe," he said.

"Sex is something much more fundamental to human living than that."

Right Reverend Hugh Montefiore, Bishop of Birmingham, echoed his concerns.

"It does suggest in its message casual sex is quite acceptable," he said.

The BBC defended its campaign and said it was necessary to educate people on ways of protecting themselves from catching HIV, the virus which can lead to Aids, through unprotected sex.

Social Security Secretary, Norman Fowler said the campaigns were important instruments in the fight against the illness which claims an increasing number of lives each year.

As part of the BBC campaign a helpline has been set up with Aids counsellors on hand to advise people concerned for themselves or loved ones.

In Context
The campaigns were among the first in Britain to raise awareness of the disease which had been identified five years earlier.

Over time the message to the public evolved to break down the myths and fears about the disease.

Many people feared it could be easily transmitted in the work place or even in the air, or by kissing.

Aids revolutionised attitudes towards sexual health as it forced issues on sexually transmitted diseases and protection against them into the public arena of debate.

High-profile charity events supported by celebrities including British singer Elton John has helped raise awareness and money for research on the illness.


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