How to Survive A Plague

How to Survive A Plague

The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS

Book - 2016
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"From the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name--an Oscar nominee--the definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight. Intimately reported, this is the story of the men and women who, watching their friends and lovers fall, ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large, and confronted with shame and hatred, chose to fight for their right to live. We witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT, and the gradual movement toward a lifesaving medical breakthrough. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
"A history of AIDS activism in New York in the early years of the plague"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307700636
Characteristics: x, 624 pages : illlustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 cm


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Jul 23, 2018

A detailed and thorough exploration of the AIDS epidemic, I found this book a fascinating and engaging read. It delves into the biology and biochemistry involved in the identification of the virus and the development of functioning drugs, follows specific timelines for individuals involved in the movement, and captures the panic and urgency of those early years. It was astounding to read about those who would die weeks after diagnosis and those who survived for over a decade. I feel acquainted with every step of the movement and understand more fully how the fight isn't over today.

Nov 23, 2017

This history is an insider’s look at the activists who advocated for AIDS treatments and victim’s rights in the early days of the epidemic. France’s account centers on New York, and the founding of such organizations as ACT UP and the Treatment Action Group, as well as the safe sex movement. France truly makes the reader feel the uncertainty and fear of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when even the cause of the disease was a mystery. Some early and influential activists believed that AIDS was the result of immune overload in “promiscuous” gay men, and advocated abstinence as treatment. While this theory was controversial and eventually thoroughly debunked, it did lead to the creation and promotion of the safer sex guidelines that helped curtail transmission of the disease. France also delves into the bureaucracy and homophobia that delayed the development of effective AIDS treatments by researchers and public health officials. Desperation led to thriving experimental drug undergrounds without proper oversight or data collection. Especially if you were born after AIDS went from being a death sentence to a manageable health condition, this is an essential and illuminating read.

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Mar 01, 2017

France's book is a difficult read. I had some small involvement in the AIDS movement in the early 1990s so was able to situate his narrative within my own experience as a volunteer for the community in Toronto. It's a sobering reminder of the prejudices and phobias that impeded the search for effective treatment for HIV.


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