How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens

How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS [BOOKS] ✮ How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS ✰ David France – Thomashillier.co.uk The definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic from the creator of, and inspired by, the seminal documentary How to Survive a Plague A riveting, powerful telling of the stor The definitive history of the successful battle Survive a MOBI í to halt the AIDS epidemic from the creator of, and inspired by, the seminal documentary How to Survive a Plague A riveting, powerful telling of the story of the grassroots movement of activists, many of them in a life or death struggle, who seized upon scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease Ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large, and confronted with shame and hatred, How to eBook ✓ this small group of men and women chose to fight for their right to live by educating themselves and demanding to become full partners in the race for effective treatments Around the globe,million people are alive today thanks to their efforts Not since the publication of Randy Shilts s classic And the Band Played On has a book measured the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms In dramatic fashion, we witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG Treatment Action Group , and the rise to Survive a Kindle Ð of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive and sometimes toxic AZT We watch as these activists learn to become their own researchers, lobbyists, drug smugglers, and clinicians, establishing their own newspapers, research journals, and laboratories, and as they go on to force reform in the nation s disease fighting agencies With his unparalleled access to this community David France illuminates the lives of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader turned activist, the high school dropout who found purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York, the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers club at the height of the epidemic, and the public relations executive fighting to save his own life for the sake of his young daughter Expansive yet richly detailed, this is an insider s account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights Powerful, heart wrenching, and finally exhilarating, How to Survive a Plague is destined to become an essential part of the literature of AIDS.


10 thoughts on “How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS

  1. Leo Robertson Leo Robertson says:

    I m on a non fiction binge, and this was a great one Quite appropriate and interesting to have read straight after Laurence Rees The Holocaust There are a number of parallels, such as the principle of survivor s guilt, and how the experience of being so heavily marginalised becomes unforgettable no matter what progress is made after the fact Reading these two books, it s just so difficult to take in Did that really happen I have an immense and bizarre hunger for how the world was once horr I m on a non fiction binge, and this was a great one Quite appropriate and interesting to have read straight after Laurence Rees The Holocaust There are a number of parallels, such as the principle of survivor s guilt, and how the experience of being so heavily marginalised becomes unforgettable no matter what progress is made after the fact Reading these two books, it s just so difficult to take in Did that really happen I have an immense and bizarre hunger for how the world was once horrible Before I go any further, I need to say I ve hung out with three gay people in the last five years One is me, the other is my husband, the third is some friend who came to visit and would not stop talking about himself OMG in one week I learned every film he d ever liked, every celebrity he thought was cute, every misfortune that ever befell him So tedious He was as close a window into the gay world as I had, and it wasn t pretty Though I m inclined to think he was just boring person gay variety rather than all other gays are boring It s like that mathematical cow joke MY POINT IS I admit on that basis I m not qualified to comment on the gay community Having acknowledged and relieved myself of authority, I want to share some things I ve been thinking about.This book is a riveting account As is the documentary of the same name, which I would advise watching first The book is a behind the scenes expansion upon the documentary, and weaves in the author s personal account of the crisis essential documentation There hasn t been a book like this in a long time, and it s a masterful and powerful narrative Miraculous, almost, and I can believe it took at least the 5 years since the documentary came out to compose I can also recommend And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts which, while clocking in at like 900 pages, reads like a breeze I d guess because the story is driven by absolute fury and urgency The HBO film of Kramer s play The Normal Heart is great too, as is a documentary on Kramer himself, Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.This book covers many of the same bases as And The Band Played On One interesting addition, which I d remembered from Shilts book, is the retribution of Patient Zero , Gaetan Dugas It turns out it was Patient O , for Outside of California which became misinterpreted Portrayed in Shilts work as some villainous disease spreader, France claims there s no such evidence of this I wonder There were some quite damning quotes in Shilts book if I recall correctly Were they just fabricated Does the retribution come from a desire not to portray any gay person in a negative light Well, I can understand that In the early 80s, with same sex intercourse only recently decriminalised, suddenly gay cancer came along and doctors advised that gay men refrain from sex Coupled with AIDS initial name, Gay related immune deficiency GRID , it s easy to see why the early interpretation of AIDS seemed like some new form of oppression Leading to unfortunate and risky rebellions As seems to be the case, with drug addictions and suicides following the success of mitigating AIDS deaths, having as much purpose as an AIDS activist can be addictive We all should measure our lives against the yardstick of self After helping to save 6,000,000 lives, how are you going to wake up and top that tomorrow With gays largely accepted into the mainstream, and the end of AIDS as death sentence, a lot of that opportunity to create meaning has dissipated Of a friend s apparent suicide after the activism, France says, As was said about the great Holocaust writer Primo Levi after he plunged to his death, my friend had never left the camps Maybe none of us did To AIDS activists, being treated the way they were at the time, and considering what would ve happened had they not done the work that they did, is an unforgettable horror.I m fascinated by purpose, meaning, and what is required of the individual With today s onslaught of news, it s very easy to get priorities ass backwards.The most influence you have in the world today is in the room with you It s with the people with whom you are emotionally connected, who know you and take you seriously, and whom you can inspire and keep alive Then it s with local communities, then it s with the globe To the side, you can get people thinking with your art, your writing or YouTube videos, your protests etc and that might reachnumerous crowds but your influence is much smaller in that regard You just don t take up the same space in the lives of distant people, and you never will I don t think.So, people should look after themselves, those around them, do a good job at work, andif possible That to me justifies anyone s existence If you ve got spare capacity, by all means have at it If you find it difficult getting out of bed in the morning, cool focus on that and nothing .This story is about humans acting in crisis mode I don t think average people are supposed to live their life this intensely, as admirable as it is It s amazing to see what humans can achieve when they re up against it, though we d of course rather that tests like this never came along.As I m sure I ve mentioned in another review, Andrew Sullivan mentioned in a Big Think video that if everyone just came out, there d be nohomophobia Everyone would know a gay person they liked I d like to believe that There was enough evidence in Rees The Holocaust that that would work I didn t know you were a Jew Well, obviously you re not the type of Jew we re talking about when we say we want Jews out of the country That s realisation Step One, and Step Two is, Oh, ALL Jews are like the Jews we like I also recently read Christian Picciolini s book, White American Youth My Descent into America s Most Violent Hate Movement and How I Got Out In it, he mentioned that once he opened a record shop and metof the marginalised groups he supposedly hated, it became impossible to hate them They were just normal people.So, I like to think that we are activists every day if we just tell the truth, act with integrity and be ourselves as much as possible In this way we are active ambassadors for who we are, what we represent and what we want in the world Protests and activism comes into play in instances when where the personal approach fails.The best answer, and one that must have been borne out of this same confusion How are the next generation of gay people supposed to think about the past How should they live the lives so many fought and died for How should they pay tribute comes from David Levithan s excellent and super short book, Two Boys Kissing We do not start as dust We do not end as dust We makethan dust That s all we ask of you Makethan dust The novel is geniusly voiced by if I interpreted correctly the collective ghost of every gay person who died of AIDS That quote is their answer to the next generation Please don t kill yourself if you ve been bullied, because we did fight to keep you alive and recognised after all But don t sit about feeling bad about that Do recognise the historical context of your own life, but also, go lie on the beach with some friends, go dancing, laugh with abandon Do it mostly because you can, but also because we can t Think of us sometimes.There s a Louis CK oh dear joke about how gay people have parades as if it s so great being gay and looks like fun, and woe is he for no straight parades Is that a use of the idiot savant He knows why the parades, right They re clearly a reaction to how ashamed society has made LGBT people in the past It wasn t once assumed that being gay was anything to be proud about It s still not considered acceptable in so many countries In the past it waslikely for someone to recommend a psychiatric institution The parades are part retribution for that They re also, if you re lucky enough to attend one, just a beautiful celebration of life And if you live in a place where that s all they need to be, well, that s extra extra beautiful I wonder if it would ever have needed to be a community if gay people were instantly accepted It has been brought together as a community by oppression Just because the oppression might tail off, and all that appears to be left is the joyful communion, it doesn t mean that we should forget the horror to which that communion was first a reaction Gay bars existed because there once weren t other places where gay people could be themselves MP Johnson s Nails is a great book about the ashamed compartmentalisation of true self She struggled prior to understanding her identity as a transgender woman Part of that phase was to book a hotel room far from home in which she could get her nails done, wear a dress and go out on the town It s true that there still exist might always exist homophobic movements, like Sweden s Nordic Resistance Movement, for example whose propaganda I pass every day on the way to work And that I do see waygay couples holding hands around Pride meaning most aren t comfortable to do it year round But it seems like background noise compared to what once was Maybe that s a dangerous way to look at it though I honestly don t know.I mention the following because it seems relevant and because I ve become a huge fan of RuPaul s Drag Race It has also suckered in EVERYONE Juan and I have shown it to I recommend you go watch some right now For something to appear frivolous and fun, it has to disguise or ignore the darkness that might ve brought it about Drag seems very much in that spirit It looks like fun and has been elevated, thanks to figures like RuPaul, to a legitimate and beautiful form of artistry But I d wager it began as an embodiment of everything homophobes thought about gay men that they were effeminate, sissy, trivial people Therefore the reaction was to produce an effeminate, sissy, camp and seemingly trivial art form, so cleverly projected upon the very body of the scorned person as a form of armour And for sure, watch ten minutes of RuPaul s Drag Race and you ll hear confessions of getting kicked out the house, abandoned at a bus stop, attending parents funerals at a formative age It s a reaction to suffering, a positive reappropriation Trixie Mattel is a great example, Trixie being the derogatory word her father used to describe his son s effeminate behaviour.In that respect, I don t personally need a gay community The goal for me was always assimilation or at least, since I ve been alive that s been an option for me, for which I m thankful Not so much assimilation as, Everyone please just leave me alone ahaha RuPaul doesn t like that idea and doesn t want to fit into society but I think being born in a time when homosexuality was taboo lends itself to that rebellion I would guess, as outlined above, it s a form of addiction as much as it may be an identity.Juan and I have a friend who grew up in a homophobic community, though has since rejected a lot of the stigmas he grew up with Which is admirable Great Let s move on I don t think it has quite clicked with him that being gay is normal to us He mentions the fact that we re gay at least once every time we see him Which is against the goal of this for me I m you, you re me We re not different So cut it out If it s not clear why it s a little odd, I ll try and explain.How many times do you think about your knees in a given day I d wager not at all, because they function properly, you ve always lived with them, and they don t specifically affect your day You may not incidentally be proud of them, because well, you can t imagine a life without having been born with them, for example In fact, no such life exists There s only this one With you and your knees Then imagine if someone said, Hey It s my friend with the knees You d be like, A weird thing to have honed in on, though not inaccurate Lots of people have knees Does he remember me for my knees Am I unaware of how I come off to others or does he just have some unresolved fascination with knees Knees is a funny word We were talking about something recently and I said to him, I don t walk around feeling thankful that no one wants to punch me in the face, because they never should ve That prejudice is stupid and I don t think anybody has the right to say You re welcome to me just for being civil They always should ve wanted to be It s my husband that he befriended first, who is, I of course think, an absolute treasure Plus, we ve been married almost 7 years now, much longer than anyone we know, which means we have a lot of insight into how to maintain a long term relationship Farthan our straight friends or friends , if you will To be around us is to be in the presence of true love, to remember it exists in the world I share my soul with that beautiful man and I don t care if anyone thinks our relationship is less legitimate than that of a heterosexual couple I mean, I don t really care what anyone thinks of me at all or do my best not to , which I would advise for anyone of any orientation or etcetera.But that s the thing I hope we inspire just for being us And I hope you do too In a perfect world, that s all we d need to do.Now onwards to Solzhenitsyn s Gulag Archipelago


  2. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    3.5 Spanning from the summer of 1981, when the New York Times first broke the story about a rare cancer observed in homosexuals, to 1996, when protease inhibitors came onto the market and offered HIV sufferers a new lease on life, How to Survive a Plague is a comprehensive history of the AIDS crisis Especially in its early chapters, it reads like a fascinating medical mystery though we already know the answers, the book skillfully captures the ignorance and terror that reigned for so many y 3.5 Spanning from the summer of 1981, when the New York Times first broke the story about a rare cancer observed in homosexuals, to 1996, when protease inhibitors came onto the market and offered HIV sufferers a new lease on life, How to Survive a Plague is a comprehensive history of the AIDS crisis Especially in its early chapters, it reads like a fascinating medical mystery though we already know the answers, the book skillfully captures the ignorance and terror that reigned for so many years as people sought to understand what Gay Related Immune Deficiency GRID, the original name for AIDS was and how it was transmitted.As a journalist and a gay man, David France was right in the thick of the crisis when he moved to Manhattan in 1981 He lost friends and lovers to AIDS, and had his own health scares, too once, on assignment in war torn Central America, he developed what he thought was a Kaposi s sarcoma lesion but turned out to be a sign of amoebic infection.Throughout the 1980s the number of HIV cases roughly doubled each year media coverage was intense but often alarmist Undertakers refused to deal with AIDS victims, and Jerry Falwell and his ilk spoke of a gay conspiracy taking over America Far too slowly, research advanced to cope with the crisis France gives details of the medical trials and presidential commissions that kept AIDS at the forefront of the national conscience, generally thanks to patient advocacy groups like ACT UP AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and PWA People with AIDSproactive terminology than victims or patients.The book reminds me most of Sheri Fink s Five Days in Memorial, another social history with a vast scope and a large cast of characters here there are about 25 doctors, researchers and activists, many of them based in New York City, who keep recurring For instance, there s Joe Sonnabend, an infectious diseases expert who specialized in treating gay men for venereal diseases Larry Kramer, who wrote an angry novel about fellow homosexuals yet tried to lead the response and Richard Berkowitz, a former sex worker who co wrote How to Have Sex in an Epidemic, a safe sex guide that encouraged a surge in condom use.I rather underestimated the reading load the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist would create for me I ended up getting bogged down in this 500 page book s level of detail and only succeeded in skimming it I think that for someone without a personal stake in the story of AIDS, watching the 2012 documentary film of the same title that spawned the book would be an easier way to absorb copious information and keep track of all the individuals and organizations involved.Nonetheless, I can certainly affirm the importance of a landmark book like this one When I surveyed critical opinion on it for Bookmarks magazine, I noticed many comparisons to Randy Shilts s 1987 And the Band Played On, but while that book was written in medias res and deliberately vilified a French Canadian flight attendant named Ga tan Dugas who was linked with multiple AIDS cases in North America, How to Survive a Plague benefits from two decades of hindsight and reflects a mixture of journalistic objectivity and personal grief.It s sobering to remember the scale of the AIDS epidemic 100,000 Americans had died of it by 1991 As one HIV positive ACT UP activist cried out to Bill Clinton, then a Democratic candidate, at a campaign event, Bill, we re dying of neglect France s book really brings home how traumatic these years were for a whole country, but especially for homosexuals He describes the relief of knowing that effective medical treatment was finally in the pipeline, but also the lingering effects of shame, bitterness, and fear.Nobody left those years uncorrupted by what they d witnessed, not only the mass deaths 100,000 lost in New York City alone, snatched from tightly drawn social circles but also the foul truths that a microscopic virus had revealed about American culture politicians who welcomed the plague as proof of God s will, doctors who refused the victims medical care, clergymen and often even parents themselves who withheld all but a shiver of grief Such betrayal would be impossible to forget in the subsequent years.France has written a definitive history of the AIDS crisis in the United States It s a cautionary tale that must not be forgotten While not among my personal favorites from the Wellcome Prize shortlist, it would be a worthy winner.Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck


  3. Jill Mackin Jill Mackin says:

    I was there I worked for the National Association of People with AIDS as their development director from 92 to 97 then again in 2000 Previously I d worked at The Human Rights Campaign Fund now HRC And the Band Played On was an excellent history of AIDS, activism and the federal gov lack of response during the 80 s.How to Survive a Plague brought it all back to me The ACT UP demos, the kiss in at the American Family Association on Vermont Ave, in Wash DC Countless deaths in my office, an I was there I worked for the National Association of People with AIDS as their development director from 92 to 97 then again in 2000 Previously I d worked at The Human Rights Campaign Fund now HRC And the Band Played On was an excellent history of AIDS, activism and the federal gov lack of response during the 80 s.How to Survive a Plague brought it all back to me The ACT UP demos, the kiss in at the American Family Association on Vermont Ave, in Wash DC Countless deaths in my office, and in my personal life So many gone The author did an outstanding job of documenting the lives of the activists, the majority of whom are dead now , the doctors, and the federal government s response up to the present day An enormous undertaking He s done the movement justice


  4. Marika Marika says:

    An insider s look at the pivotal moment in American history when AIDS became an epidemic Written in an easy to read narrative style, this book is equal parts medical, and history that includes lots of sleuthing by average people who desperately want to save their lives, and the lives of their loved ones from AIDS, despite being stonewalled by the government These ordinary citizens are collectively the Erin Brockovichs of the AIDS movement If you loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks yo An insider s look at the pivotal moment in American history when AIDS became an epidemic Written in an easy to read narrative style, this book is equal parts medical, and history that includes lots of sleuthing by average people who desperately want to save their lives, and the lives of their loved ones from AIDS, despite being stonewalled by the government These ordinary citizens are collectively the Erin Brockovichs of the AIDS movement If you loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks you ll love this book.Note I received a free review copy of this book and was not compensated for it


  5. Jill Meyer Jill Meyer says:

    For the first 15 or so years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was a virtual death sentence Journalist David France, in his excellent work, How to Survive a Plague The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS , examines the years 1980 to 1996 to show how citizens in this case, mostly gay activists put government officials, drug companies, and scientists on the line to come up with drugs and other therapies to control the disease.David France focuses his book on the work being For the first 15 or so years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was a virtual death sentence Journalist David France, in his excellent work, How to Survive a Plague The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS , examines the years 1980 to 1996 to show how citizens in this case, mostly gay activists put government officials, drug companies, and scientists on the line to come up with drugs and other therapies to control the disease.David France focuses his book on the work being done in New York City He had moved to the city from small town Michigan, finding the freedom to come out He became a journalist and both recorded and participated in the various movements he writes about He also writes about the toll that AIDS tool during those early years, when the gay community lost thousands of young men And many of the men lost were friends and lovers of David France, who recounts the deep personal toll AIDS took on him and others.France s book is not a short and easy read He goes behind the scenes and names names, and scolds those who stood in the way of the search for a cure for AIDS Of course, the first eight years the Ronald Reagan years Reagan did very, very little to help, not even uttering the word AIDS until well into his second term France s description of a task force finally put together under Reagan is almost amusing in the way he describes the grotesque, mostly anti gay members of the group However, those task members are no worse than the drug company officials particularly Burroughs Wellcome whose greed and proprietary interests set back manufacture and distribution of drugs that might have helped.David France also writes about the dissension within the gay community over the causes of the disease But, if there was fighting, there was also working together Those parts were the wonder of the book people gay, straight,old, young, men, women who came together to fight their common enemies and work for the greater good.Many years ago I read Randy Shilts s And the Band Played On , which was written in the early 1990 s, before drug cocktails have made AIDS into a manageable illness for most It was an epic book, much like David France s book is


  6. Katherine Katherine says:

    An insider s comprehensive and eye opening account of the citizens who changed and saved lives throughout the AIDS plague How to Survive a Plague is informative, emotional, and unique Not only was I in awe of the people who repeatedly worked to change the course of history, but the author s clear dedication was inspiring Everyone should read this book, nowthan ever If ever protest feels like a hopeless task, this book is proof that it isn t Ignored by the majority confronted with ha An insider s comprehensive and eye opening account of the citizens who changed and saved lives throughout the AIDS plague How to Survive a Plague is informative, emotional, and unique Not only was I in awe of the people who repeatedly worked to change the course of history, but the author s clear dedication was inspiring Everyone should read this book, nowthan ever If ever protest feels like a hopeless task, this book is proof that it isn t Ignored by the majority confronted with hate millions of people are now alive because of the people and founding groups that never quit, even when many would and many did David France does a stunning job of accurately sharing what it took This book is an amazing accomplishment and I urge everyone to read it


  7. Silvio111 Silvio111 says:

    Where Randy Shilts drew the intricate outline of the history of the AIDS crisis in his 1987 classic, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, David France has sculpted a three dimensional image of the herculean task of convincing the NIH and the pharmaceutical companies to research, test, and manufacture drugs that would effectively corral HIV into a disease that could be managed and survived.Unlike Shilts, who maintained a strictly detached, if dramatic, journalistic tone as he related the story like a mystery Where Randy Shilts drew the intricate outline of the history of the AIDS crisis in his 1987 classic, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, David France has sculpted a three dimensional image of the herculean task of convincing the NIH and the pharmaceutical companies to research, test, and manufacture drugs that would effectively corral HIV into a disease that could be managed and survived.Unlike Shilts, who maintained a strictly detached, if dramatic, journalistic tone as he related the story like a mystery novel whose outcome, in 1987, we were not quite as assured of, France was there in the thick of it and he periodically positions himself among the characters he is following This does not detract from his well researched andor less dispassionate narrative, but it does serve to put you down right in the geography of the Village in NYC or the campus of NIH in the DC area This is helpful because there are so many characters, and these mostly gay men worked so tirelessly as political activists, public health advocates, and support for their dying loved ones that it would all seem unreal if the author were not reminding us from time to time that he was there and he saw it happen.There were also women who played a significant role and he gives them their due, but most likely someone else will come along to tell their side of it in depth at some point.One interesting element for me was the fact that the musician and political architect of the safer sex movement, Michael Callen, is one of the main characters of this story Any gay person in the 1990s who attended rallies and fundraisers, even in the Washington DC area rather than Callen s home base, New York City, would know him first and foremost as the amazing voice in the gay a capella doo wop group, The Flirtations, as well as as a solo songwriter of stunningly iconic songs of gay liberation, such as How to Have Sex in an Epidemic without getting caught up in polemic, as well as Love Don t Need a Reason, and the unforgettable, Living in Wartime, all featured on his first solo album, Purple Heart.The book does not focus on his music much at all Rather, it follows his efforts to convince gay men at the start of the epidemic to refrain from unsafe practices Initially, he thinks this means celibacy Then he has his inspiration with the help of his battle brother, Richard Berkowitz certain sexual practices are safe others are not Due to their efforts, the condom became the primary weapon against HIV, and their influence helped gay men put the love back into sex, as they put it.Aside from the interesting personalities, my lasting takeaway from reading France s book is to realize how these men and women drove themselves, ran themselves ragged, while simultaneously dealing with severe illness, grief over lost partners, and economic hardship endured mostly without a security net.Like the Ancient Greeks I believe , who are said to have gone to battle in pairs with their same sex lovers to incite them to protect each other fiercely, the same ethic appears to apply to this account of the early soldiers who battled a White House administration who ignored the epidemic, a New York mayor too concerned with his own image to provide leadership, and the greater apathy of society who were not terribly bothered about AIDS until it felled Rock Hudson, a perceived straight white male like them.If you were an adult during the 80s and 90s, this book will remind you where you were while all this was happening, and you will most likely be affected by this heroic a word often overused, but apt in this case effort which did, ultimately achieve the goal of making effective drugs available against the plague of HIV


  8. Tim Pinckney Tim Pinckney says:

    This is an extraordinary book, beautifully written It will knock the wind out of you at times I was finishing it over lunch yesterday and started crying in Chipotle For those of us that experienced much of this story first hand, it is a detailed, smart and completely readable account of a harrowing time in our recent history The amazing array of characters will infuriate you, make you laugh and break your heart Read this book to see how every day citizens of this country brought about l This is an extraordinary book, beautifully written It will knock the wind out of you at times I was finishing it over lunch yesterday and started crying in Chipotle For those of us that experienced much of this story first hand, it is a detailed, smart and completely readable account of a harrowing time in our recent history The amazing array of characters will infuriate you, make you laugh and break your heart Read this book to see how every day citizens of this country brought about lifesaving changes to slow and somewhat manage the AIDS crisis Millions of people are alive today because of what they accomplished


  9. Ana Ana says:

    In countless ways, survival, unexpected as it was, proved as hard to adjust to as the plague itself.


  10. Keen Keen says:

    France shows how terrifying and isolating an experience it must have been to grow up gay in America during the 70s and 80s Using his own experience he illustrates the terror and stigma surrounding homosexuality and this was before the appearance of AIDS We have to remember that up to the 70s homosexuality was classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a sociopathic personality disturbance and ECT was being administered to try and cure it The New York Times France shows how terrifying and isolating an experience it must have been to grow up gay in America during the 70s and 80s Using his own experience he illustrates the terror and stigma surrounding homosexuality and this was before the appearance of AIDS We have to remember that up to the 70s homosexuality was classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a sociopathic personality disturbance and ECT was being administered to try and cure it The New York Times comes in for a share amount of criticism here Initially it chose not to list the partners of deceased victims of AIDS It s hard to fathom in today s comparatively tolerant climate, but in 80s NYC you had a situation where, It took two years and almost six hundred dead before New York Times put a story on the front page One terminally ill patient recalls in a TV interview that one day whilst in hospital and overheard two nurse aides sort of laughing, I wonder how long the faggot in 208 is going to last This was in 1983 They had a situation where not only were all the major news outlets largely ignoring it or mis reporting the facts and the mayor refusing to discuss it, but you also had most hospitals initially refused to give patients a bed or room, where most doctors refused to treat them and ambulance drivers were refusing to pick up AIDS patients, and almost every undertakers refused to accept the bodies We are not talking about medieval Europe or the Middle East, this was NYC in the 1980s, a city that loves to tell the world that it s the greatest in the world We see how the sudden emergence of PCP a particularly nasty form of pneumonia KS Kaposi s Sarcoma in patients started fears of a so called gay cancer and how so many had to suffer for so long before Big Pharma came up with AZT, though apparently over half of the victims couldn t take it as it was so toxic Leading figures like NYC Mayor Ed Koch and President Reagan went years before even mentioning AIDS in public by name, which clearly only added to the problem There are many shocking examples given to illustrate how AIDS was being viewed, but surely the most revealing has to be, when Reagan, who had yet to acknowledge it, but went out of his way to make a speech for the victims of a flood and landslide in Central America, saying, The American people join me in sending sympathy to those injured, their families and the families of those who lost their lives To add insult he donated 25 Million in foreign aid,than triple set aside to fight AIDS in his own country in the same year Quarantine orders from the CDC for any foreign homosexual attempting to enter the country, they were questioned in special detention centres, where if they admitted to being gay they could be deported.France weaves his own experiences into the history, at one point he describes working during his 90 day trial period at Rupert Murdoch s New York Post He is taken aside and told by the investigations editor, Found out you re gay, he said through the grin of a poor winner I looked away On his desk I saw clippings of my work in the Native We don t need infiltrators here, bloke, not homosexuals in the investigations department In spite of largely being funded by the tax payer, Burroughs Wellcome ensured that AZT was the highest price drug in the US and the highest one in history at that point According to one estimate they would bank 172 million 206 million in revenues a year in the US alone In 1985 when NBC chose to show An Early Frost the first film to deal with AIDS Even though some 34 million tuned in to watch, the network lost an estimated half a million dollars in advertising revenue as corporations fled the time slot Having the likes of William F Buckley referring to it as Avenging angel and retribution for a repulsive vice Demanding that its sufferers have their flesh branded as warnings to the world This did little to help and neither did the likes of Republican governor, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, whose policies wouldn t have been out of place in Nazi Germany.It got so bad that at one stage you had thousands of tax paying Americans having to pay for their own flights to Paris, France in a desperate bid to try and access superior drugs On the run up for Koch s third election campaign for NYC mayor, the stats were as follows, In the thirty months of plague, a time in which 1.340 New Yorkers were diagnosed and 773 were already gone, Koch had spent just 24,500 on AIDS In the same time frame, San Francisco had allocated and spentthan 4 million on care and prevention That gap was evenstriking considering that the city by the Bay had just 12 % of the nation s case load compared to New York City s 42% The catholic church had contracts totalling around 76 million Church leaders made it clear that if forced to hire gays they would shut down the whole operation, leaving tens of thousands of at risk New Yorkers in a lurch They insisted that they weren t bigoted, Archbishop of NYC, John O Connor insisting that, Plain common sense to restrict some sensitive jobs to heterosexuals It would be totally inappropriate, in my judgement, to hire a blatant homosexual and put him in as a house parent to a group of young, troubled teenage boys It s the age old problem where senior members of religious groups, get so drunk on power, that they confuse their dogma with scientific expertise, O Connor who repeatedly spoke out against condoms, spreading ignorance and lies insisting that they allowed as many pregnancies and infections as they blocked This book could maybe have beenstringently edited, there are certainly times when France loses his way a bit, getting bogged down in the minutiae, which it fully understandable since this was a deeply personal account that explored the lives and suffering of many of his close friends and many people he loved Butimportantly what France has done here is raise awareness and really tried to push it into the mainstream He shames the America, which loves to show to the world how free, democratic and tolerant it is He consistently destroys this myth clearly demonstrating that it was far removed from this idea it loves to portray itself as France shows us that for well over a decade Big Pharma, senior religious figures, the vast majority of the mainstream media, president Reagan, Bush Snr and almost every senior person they appointed, greatly failed millions and as result of their deliberate avoidance, personal agendas and not least their ignorant, cowardly, homophobic propaganda, caused or led to the unnecessary suffering and deaths of millions and all because of their sexual orientation This is a significant book that draws attention to one of the darkest chapters in modern American history and shames them for their shallow prejudices and shameless ignorance and for that alone France should be applauded


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