It has been an interesting month to read David France’s magisterial history of the AIDS crisis in the United States. As I sat down to the write this review, The Guardian reported that a Georgia state politician, Betty Price, had raised the possibility of isolating HIV positive individuals. ‘I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it,’ Price mused to a legislative committee. The story had further potency: Price is the spouse of Tom Price, who until recently was President Trump’s secretary of health and human services. Closer to home, in a speech to the National Press Club outlining the case against marriage equality, the director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, apologised for ‘the very hurtful and hateful’ things said about people with AIDS by religious organisations during the 1980s. It was a typically smooth and disingenuous move by the articulate Shelton. Apologise for incendiary anti-gay speech in the past while dog whistling prejudicial tropes in the present.
Robert Reynolds reviews 'How to Survive a Plague: The story of how activists and scientists tamed AIDS' by David France
How to Survive a Plague: The story of how activists and scientists tamed AIDS
by David France
Picador, $34.99 pb, 640 pp, 9781509839391
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Robert Reynolds is an Associate Professor in Modern History at Macquarie University. He is the author of From Camp to Queer (2002), What Happened to Gay Life (2007) and co-author with Shirleene Robinson of Gay and Lesbian, Then and Now: Australian stories from a social revolution (2016), published by Black Inc..
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