Think Postive: Rethink HIV
Today (Tuesday 1st December) is World AIDS Day, the annual global health day dedicated to raising awareness about the virus, supporting the people who live with it and remembering those who have died.
According to the World AIDS Day website, around 100,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK – and 18,000 of those are unaware or undiagnosed. Across the world, an estimated 34 million people have HIV. Since it was first identified in 1984, over 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, which makes it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Charlie Sheen’s recent interview on NBC’s Today programme reminded us that the virus hasn’t gone away. Still, progress is being made; 15 million people were receiving ART, or antiretroviral therapy, at the start of 2015, compared to one million in 2001.
Randy Shilts is the author of Stonewall Book Award-winning And the Band Played On. This definitive history charts the spread of the AIDS epidemic from the very beginning in 1976 to 1985, with a briefer look at the events after 1985 that brought this disease to international attention. A masterpiece of investigative journalism, it weaves together over 1000 personal stories of those in the gay community and medical and political establishments. Together with his social and political reporting, Shilts also exposes how AIDS was ignored, or denied, by many national institutions.
Though he was tested for HIV whilst working on And the Band Played On, he refused to find out his diagnosis until after he’d finished writing. In 1987, Shilts learned that he was HIV+. The year before his death in 1994, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association.
And the Band Played On is part of Souvenir Press’ Independent Voices Series, dedicated to publishing writers who provide alternative viewpoints and challenge conventional wisdom, making available work that has been unavailable in the UK although it is as relevant today as on its original publication.