Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
Winner of The Green Carnation Prize for LGBTQ literature
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT non-fiction
Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017
'This superbly written chronicle will stand as a towering work in its field' Sunday Times
'Inspiring, uplifting and necessary reading' - Steve Silberman author of Neurotribes, Financial Times
How to Survive a Plague by David France is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts.
Not since the publication of Randy Shilts's now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms.
Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider's account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.
Journalist France (Our Fathers) illuminates the origins and progress of the fight against AIDS in this moving mix of memoir and reportage, a companion book to his eponymous Academy Award nominated 2012 documentary. He covers a revolution in drug development that occurred as patients, for the first time, "joined in the search for their own salvation." France begins in 1981, when a buried New York Times story first identified a "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals," and continues through 1996, when a medical system transformed by activism delivered treatments that rendered AIDS a manageable illness. He juxtaposes his personal involvement with that of a group of self-proclaimed "HIVIPs," key ACT UP leaders from their Treatment + Data Committee whose collective mission was getting the medical establishment to put "drugs into bodies." Eventually, ACT UP became unwieldy and the group spun-off into the Treatment Action Group. France shares with passion and pathos the personal battles of these activists, offering both plaudits and opprobrium to an array of players who constituted the fabric of the community. As important as Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On was in 1987, France's work is a must-read for a new generation of empowered patients, informed medical practitioners, and challenged caregivers lest history repeat itself.