How to Survive A Plague
How to Survive A Plague The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS By France, David Book - 2016

David France was a gay journalist who made a career of documenting the plague of HIV and AIDS, especially in NYC in the 1980s and 1990s. He stresses how the plague affected those most affected by AIDS, especially as the death tolls rose past 100,000 just in the city itself, where Mayor Ed Koch did his best to keep resources from those affected. As time went on, organizations arose to help themselves--since nobody else was going to help them--began out of sheer fear and desperation, and then to fight among themselves. The scientists, especially in the drug companies, worked hard behind closed doors to develop drugs that would "cure" AIDS, or at least add weeks to the lifespan of its victims. PWA, or People With Aids, as one brave man who ended up dying of the disease phrased it, worked equally hard to have input into the process. It did, after all, affect their lives. When, a dozen years into the epidemic, the drug companies let PWA into the scientific process, progress began to be made. Yet, the survivors, many of them, couldn't celebrate. They'd lost too many friends and lovers; many suffered PTSD from what they'd been through; others sunk into drug addiction; suicide claimed others. France was lucky; he found friendship in the family of a man who he had nursed through his gruesome death. And he found, in the end, love that made it all worthwhile. I withheld 1/2 a star because there were so incredibly many characters that it was very hard to keep track of them all, and so many potential treatments discussed that it was hard to keep track of them too. The book helped me understand the single AIDS patient I helped care for as a hospice employee, and his AIDS blindness and AIDS dementia. Anyone who wants to understand, in the particular or the general, what the AIDS plague was about, must read this book. Long, but well worth the effort.

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