July #72 : The Untouchables - by Walter Armstrong and Shana Naomi Krochmal

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Table of Contents

Splitting Image

Is That All There Is to Approval?

Combination Strategies

Gimme Shelter

Bells, Books and Candles


Calling All Angels

It's Raining Meds

Demand Results


Parody Killed The Prevention Ad

Genes In The Bunch


Shop Till You Drop

Gyn and Bitters

The Untouchables


All Lit Up

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July 2001

The Untouchables

by Walter Armstrong and Shana Naomi Krochmal

All buzz, no fuzz: Italy's "AIDS Gang" had nothing to do lose with a legal loophole that kept the bank-robbing PWAs out of jail. Their victimless hijinks netted them a summer of lire, press and props from HIVers planetwide in those pre-protease depression days.


That summer, O.J. Simpson dominated the morning papers and evening news, and Americans were talking law as though they'd just discovered courtroom trials. But halfway across the globe form LA, three Italian PWAs were making their own high-crime headlines--and making fellow HIVers smile slyly about their "nothing to lose" antics in that dark pre-protease period.

Dubbed the "AIDS Gang," Sergio Magnis, Ferdinando Attansio and Antonio Lamarra spent the season ripping off five-figures sums from more than 10 Turin banks. Heat-packing, cool-headed and bare-faced, these Bonnie-less Clydes had no fear of the fuzz because they held a "Do Not Go To Jail" trump card: A 1993 Italian compassionate release law had banned all terminally ill criminals from doing time. They were, after all, already sentenced to death.

For the PWAs, it was a Johnnie Cochran-size legal loophole-people with no immune systems were granted full immunity.

But after the merry band's days were over numbered. Though they claimed to be motivated less by money than by the media-for better medical care for HIVers-Italy's top court was not amused. In October, it amended the law giving judges power to put HIV positive cons behind bars. As O.J. picked up his walking papers, the AIDS Gang put down their guns.

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