This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease but also what should be done about it. Finally, the film deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus. Written by
I decided to watch this movie again tonight for the first time in several years. I lived in San Francisco when the epidemic began and had a first hand view of the fear, paranoia, and grief.
The movie brings back memories of worrying about my gay child and many of my friends. We attended more than a few memorial services. My son, praise be, is fine.
The best thing about watching it so many years later is to realize how far we've come since then. AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was. The book and the film did a great deal to raise public awareness. HBO was courageous, the actors were all first class and I believe it was realistic in its portrayal of the heroes, the villains, and the public ignorance and apathy of the time.
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