Thirty-one years ago, on January 15, 1981, the first known AIDS death took place. It took a year-and-a-half, until July 1982, before the disease even got a name. As the disease spread and the death rate just kept climbing, AIDS quickly became the “plague” of our time.
So how did HIV/AIDS go from a death sentence to a treatable condition? “How to Survive a Plague,” a documentary directed by David France and written by France, Todd Woody Richman and Tyler H. Walk, addresses this question. The film details the work of early AIDS activists that forced the government and pharmaceutical companies to take notice and take action.
Featuring never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and 1990s, “How to Survive a Plague” puts viewers in the middle of the demonstrations, heated meetings and emotions that surrounded the AIDS epidemic. Although many may have forgotten how extremely controversial the AIDS issue was 30 years ago, the early AIDS activists had to become experts on the virus and demand changes in research, drug development and treatment approaches.
“How to Survive a Plague” is essentially the story of two coalitions: ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group). The brave young men and women who made up these coalitions bucked oppression and became activists. As successful change agents they mastered the issues, navigated the politics, infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry, and changed the world.
“How to Survive a Plague” is scheduled for a limited release on September 21, 2012 by Sundance Selects.