How to survive a plague : the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS /

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, written by the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name, also shares the poignant stories of gay activists who resolved to make their life battles purposeful.

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Main Author: France, David, 1959- (Author)
Format: Book Electronic
Published:New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Edition:First edition.
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Review by Choice Review

This is an extremely detailed and revealing history that ranges from 1978 to 2016 and discusses the activists who pushed for drug development, testing, treatment options, and compassionate care for those suffering from AIDS. It is a sad story that illustrates the international political struggle for recognition, credit, and profit, and demonstrates the complete disregard for minorities; but it also highlights heroic reporting and lobbying from a variety of players of different backgrounds. Political leaders were shockingly silent for years; President Bill Clinton helped facilitate AIDS research on the federal level. France, a prominent author, provides unique information about the dynamic and controversial individuals who raised awareness and funds for the AIDS epidemic; many worked for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), and the Treatment Action Group (TAG). These stakeholders promoted safe sex education, shared research studies and guidelines for prevention of "opportunistic infections," and experimented with underground medications because US government organizations, like the CDC and the FDA, were slow to respond. The work contains two sections of glossy color photographs, chapter notes, and an abbreviations list. Nonetheless, the work is missing a glossary, which could have been helpful. This work is recommended for its personal insight into patient advocacy. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Ellen R. Paterson, SUNY College at Cortland

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist France (Our Fathers) illuminates the origins and progress of the fight against AIDS in this moving mix of memoir and reportage, a companion book to his eponymous Academy Award-nominated 2012 documentary. He covers a revolution in drug development that occurred as patients, for the first time, "joined in the search for their own salvation." France begins in 1981, when a buried New York Times story first identified a "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals," and continues through 1996, when a medical system transformed by activism delivered treatments that rendered AIDS a manageable illness. He juxtaposes his personal involvement with that of a group of self-proclaimed "HIVIPs," key ACT UP leaders from their Treatment + Data Committee whose collective mission was getting the medical establishment to put "drugs into bodies." Eventually, ACT UP became unwieldy and the group spun-off into the Treatment Action Group. France shares with passion and pathos the personal battles of these activists, offering both plaudits and opprobrium to an array of players who constituted the fabric of the community. As important as Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On was in 1987, France's work is a must-read for a new generation of empowered patients, informed medical practitioners, and challenged caregivers-lest history repeat itself. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by Kirkus Book Review

How scientists and citizens banded together to lift the death sentence from AIDS.It may be hard for anyone not alive at the time to comprehend how devastatingly the AIDS epidemic announced itself in the early 1980s and how resolute the Ronald Reagan government was in doing nothing about it. Emblematic was Jesse Helms, the North Carolina segregationist senator who argued in support of an amendment bearing his name to prohibit research and treatment funding, which he said would promote, encourage, or condone homosexual activities. Other bills introduced at the time included a suite that, among other things, sought to bar people with AIDS from practicing in the health care industry, even as X-ray technicians. Matters in the government did not begin to turn around, writes documentarian/journalist France (Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal, 2004), until the Democrats took the White House, following a testy exchange with activists in which candidate Bill Clinton cast himself as a better friend to people with AIDS than people with AIDS themselves. It was those activists and their unflagging efforts, France documents, that kept the matter of AIDS and funding for its treatment in the public eye and on the political table, and while the long battle exhausted manyas France writes, there was a second epidemic of drug use, attributable to the self-medication of the traumatizedit was also extraordinarily effective in rallying both public and scientific/medical support. The result was a transformation of the diseasenot just a physical one, with medications developed and made available that could regenerate a persons immune system, but also a social one, with much of the stigma lifted from the ill. All this, as the author notes in closing, was accomplished by angry, vocal people out in the streetsa very good lesson for activists engaged in other issues today. A lucid, urgent updating of Randy Shilts And the Band Played On (1987) and a fine work of social history. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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