How to Survive a Plague (2012)

I don't know much about AIDS but I've always been interested in the subject matter as I care about LBGT causes so I finally decided to check out How to Survive a Plague, another documentary suggested by Dell over Dell on Movies as it topped his greatest LGBT movies list.

As I was mentioning, How to Survive a Plague is a documentary about AIDS and it follows two small groups of gay activists, ACT UP and TAG, as they fight the government, specifically the FDA, to get a treatment to turn a death sentence such as AIDS into a manageable disease.

The documentary starts in 1986 in New York where men and women not only are dying of AIDS but are even refused in hospitals and ambulances would refuse to carry them. There's nothing each of them could do on their own so they activists groups with the purpose to bring attention, awareness, and most importantly a cure to AIDS.

It follows these groups as they courageously battle the FDA as they introduced a toxic drug, the AZT, to cure the disease, politicians as they refused to step in for several reasons, and even the Catholic Church as they condemned the use of condoms, which were and still are effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

With a mixture of archive footage --from protests, home movies, and more sources-- and more recent interviews, director David France does a good job in capturing the struggling AIDS victims and activists as they witnessed their friends and family members go blind and die while the US government did absolutely nothing to stop it.

Mongrel Media, Sundance Selects, IFC
With How to Survive a Plague, France also manages to show the amount of discrimination towards anybody with AIDS or people linked to gay communities, he does a pretty good job at teaching future generations about the struggles of these people and all they had to put up with, but most importantly, he showcases how far people are willing to go for a change, literally to make the world a better and friendly place for everyone, no matter the sexual orientation or skin colour.


  1. Man, the 80s were such a different time as it pertains to our knowledge of AIDS. These people really were proactive in raising awareness, as well as making real changes. I have nothing but respect for those involved. Glad you took the time to watch it.

  2. I've never watched this doc though I've been aware of it. Apparently I need to change that.Great review!

  3. I saw this in the theaters years ago and it was intense to watch into not just this history of people fighting for their lives but I was stunned even more by its aftermath into the fact that these were people who were inches away from death and we then see them looking healthier but still having the urge to continue this fight for a cure.

  4. I have not heard about this except from Wendell and I hope to see it one day. I remember how freaked out the people were with AIDS and applaud the people who fought hard to survive. The discrimination and judgemental attitudes was rife and I think, when princess Diana held the hand of an AIDS patient, it was shocking and truly helped people realize they will not get the disease from just holding hands. This is a great review of the film

    1. I was born in 1994 so I missed all of this when it was happening. It was heartbreaking and sickening to see how those people were treated because of their illness.