Sherr LorraineAIDS: April 1990 Short communication: PDF Only Abstract Fear arousal as an agent for behaviour change has had little recorded success. However, one component of the UK government health education campaign On AIDS (phase 2) used targeted fear messages. This study therefore examined whether the posters (visual) or television advertisements (audiovisual) (1) raised anxiety levels, (2) changed attitudes, and (3) affected sexual behaviour in 111 subjects (59 students and 52 consecutive attenders at a drug-dependency unit). The drug-dependency unit group was significantly more anxious than the students before the campaign (P < 0.0001). Fear messages significantly increased anxiety in the students (t = 3.8, P < 0.0001) but had no impact on the drug users. There were no differences between visual and audiovisual material. Thus the campaign did not reach the targeted group but did raise anxiety levels (in the short term) in the students. Perceived personal risk was low and willingness to change sexual behaviour (which was also low) did not differ across groups. Drug-using behaviour was unaltered. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.