Interview with director of AIDS documentary 'How to Survive a Plague'on October 19, 2012 @ 5:46 am (Updated: 9:15 am - 10/21/12 )
"How to Survive a Plague" is a new acclaimed documentary about how activists fought to find a cure for AIDS.
So successful has been the medical treatment of AIDS, that an entire generation of young Americans has no experience of it as a necessarily fatal disease. But as this new documentary reminds us, for a good decade and a half AIDS was a death sentence for millions.
Director David France has culled through hundreds of hours of archival footage from the 1980's and 1990's to recount the dramatic and controversial fights, first in the streets and in the churches, then in Congress and in the drug laboratories.
David France tells me that the social and political battle over finding a cure for AIDS was revolutionary and could be a model for future social movements. France credits gay activist organizations like ACT-UP with forcing protocol changes at the National Institutes of Health and the FDA. Before these protests, these institutions usually took 10 years to get a new drug tested and made public - but now the norm is closer to two years. Thanks to the pressure and help of the gay community.
I asked France about Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign and he said he worries that the message is things get better naturally. The message of "How to Survive a Plague" is that things only get better after a lot of hard work.
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