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How to Survive a Plague 2012

  • David France
  • September 20, 2012
  • 120 mins
  • English
  • Documentary
A story of two coalitions – ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) – whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time.

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This documentary is interesting but disappointing by the end. Telling the story of the AIDS struggle and the fight for viable treatment, it's a fascinating historical documentary that lays out the timeline of the discovery of HIV/AIDS, its spread, and the eventual discovery of a treatment (although no cure). But, the movie really drops the ball hard on two points. First, it's very US-centric, focusing mainly on the struggle in the United States and not as a worldwide problem. Second, it's a historical documentary, in that it treats its subject like history and not as an ongoing issue in other parts of the world, which does an incredible disservice to those who are still trying to fight this disease the world over. It's well-made as a historical documentary, but, unfortunately, it's not history and it's dangerous to treat this subject as such.

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