Browsing: AIDS

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            It Was Vulgar & It Was Beautiful makes a compelling case for the significance of Gran Fury’s imagery to the efficacy of ACT UP. Lowery also sees a larger significance: “Maybe the most important lessons from Grand Fury aren’t about AIDS explicitly, or even about pandemics, but rather the ability for this kind of work to sway public opinion, to shape our attitudes, and to change our worldviews.”

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FIRST LOVE swirls at the center of Christopher Zyda’s memoir, The Storm, followed in short order by illness and death. The book recounts the fifteen-year period from 1983 to 1998, during which the promising UCLA English literature major who had “set my career sights on writing in Hollywood” meets and falls in love with 33-year-old Stephen, “a muscular man with brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and a beautiful smile.” …

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            [Sarah] Schulman states at the outset that her primary purpose in writing Let the Record Show “is not nostalgia, but rather to help contemporary and future activists learn from the past to assist organizing in the present” and to show “that people from all walks of life, working together, can change the world.”

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As I write this, the new coronavirus has appeared in all fifty states and around the world. Numbers of cases are rising rapidly in the U.S., but testing continues to be spotty.

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BORN IN 1962, Malcom Gregory Scott, is an American writer, activist, and AIDS survivor. As a young man he joined the U.S. Navy, but in 1987 he was discharged for homosexuality. Upon his release, Scott also learned that he tested positive for HIV. A decade later, his battle with AIDS nearly ended his life. Miraculously, with the emergence of protease inhibitors coupled with medical marijuana, he survived, and he survives today.

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Finkelstein also reminds us that the HIV/AIDS crisis is far from over, analyzing the work of a new generation of queer activists and their responses to narratives around the plague.

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DAVID FRANCE’S HISTORY of AIDS opens with a memorial service for Spencer Cox, an ACT UP activist, to whom we come back in the epilogue. In between are approximately thirteen years of Hell. Although How to Survive a Plague pretty much follows the plot of the documentary film he released four years ago with the same title, the difference between the two is enormous. When the film came out, this reviewer wondered if a book would not give us more nuance, more insight into what people were really thinking in those ACT UP meetings we saw on screen. Well, here is the answer to that wish.

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WE HEAR a lot about advances in HIV treatment, the use of Truvada or PrEP to prevent HIV infection for the sexually active, and the latest programs designed to promote safer sex. Largely unreported, however, has been a huge shift toward addressing “upstream” mental health issues—such as depression, substance abuse, or partner violence—because it has finally become clear that gay men who don’t feel good about themselves or their lives are less likely to protect themselves and more likely to take risks.

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A 2015 book by Samuel G. Freedman, Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times, documents Schmalz’ profound effect on American print media. In a personal interview, Freedman, a professor at Columbia University and the “On Religion” columnist for The Times, discussed the atmosphere at the paper before Schmalz’ arrival.

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OVER THE PAST DECADE, we’ve seen a great deal of progress on HIV/Aids in the U.S. Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late 2015 indicate that diagnoses of HIV in the U.S. declined significantly over the last decade. … However, black and Latino gay and bisexual men actually saw an increase in HIV diagnoses of 22 percent and 24 percent.

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