How to Survive a Plague
(David France, 2012)
“The first documentary that I have seen that does justice to this story of a civil rights movement rising from the ashes of our dead.” –Andrew Sullivan
“An epic celebration of heroism and tenacity, and less directly, a useful template for any fledgling activist movement, demonstrating the effectiveness of inside/outside stragegy.” –The Hollywood Reporter
How To Survive A Plague is the untold story of the efforts that turned AIDS into a mostly manageable condition – and the improbable group of young men and women who, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, and helped identify promising new compounds, moving them through trials and into drugstores in record time. These drugs saved their lives and ended the darkest days of the epidemic, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals.
These activists’ efforts created a paradigm for patient empowerment and health-care activism that has since been replicated in the fight against many other diseases from breast cancer to heart disease. And as AIDS spread to Africa, India, and Asia, these activists helped open local groups, exporting AIDS activism to press for better, and more accessible, treatment.
Their story stands as a powerful inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. Science has yet to find a cure, and without rejuvenated vigilance, transmission is on the rise – most remarkably, among young gay men who are ignorant of how AIDS activists beat back a plague, and along the way changed the world. (109 mins., DCP)
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