July/August #189 : Making Headlines - by Trenton Straube

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Table of Contents


Magnetic Attraction

A Shred of Understanding

Hold Your Horses

From the Editor

Accentuate the Positive


Letters-July/August 2013


Pride and Policy

POZ Planet

Say What?—Alicia Keys

Greetings from Ptown

PACHA Covers Trans Issues

Making Headlines

Latest Developments

Not Another Gay Sex Disease

Future Lovers

On a Roll


Yours in the Struggle

Care and Treatment

The Quest to Cure Another Baby

Viral Suppression Without Drugs?

The Genetic Fusion Inhibitor

New Retention Guidelines Urge Partnerships

Mapping Viral and Immune Coevolution

Research Notes

Prevention: PrEP May Be Cost-Effective

Treatement: Can Bees Sting Away HIV?

Cure: HDAC Inhibitors May Fight HIV Reservoir

Concerns: Hep C Transmission Among Gay Men

POZ Survey Says

Accentuate the Negative

POZ Heroes

Chemical Crusader

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 / August 2013

Making Headlines

by Trenton Straube

“Patient Zero” cooked up to sell 1987 AIDS book.

And the Band Played OnPublished at the height of AIDS hysteria and media silence, journalist Randy Shilts’s nonfiction best seller And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic helped bring national attention to the virus. Told in a novelistic, thriller style, the book also introduced the world to Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas, a.k.a. Patient Zero, a gay bogeyman of sorts whose sexual appetite even in the face of illness seemed to single-handedly spread AIDS across America.

Now, in 2013, historian Phil Tiemeyer has published Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants. Sections of the book bring to light what many have long suspected: Although Dugas was a real person and although Shilts wanted Dugas to represent a certain archetype of gay man, the concept of a “Typhoid Mary” Patient Zero was concocted to sell books at a time when most media would not cover AIDS. Shilts’s then editor Michael Denneny tells Tiemeyer that Shilts, who died of AIDS in 1994, hated the idea of resorting to tabloid journalism to sell books. But it was much easier for the media to lambast a promiscuous gay man than to delve into the complex realities of the unfolding epidemic.

Regardless, the ploy worked. And we’re still talking. HBO adapted And the Band Played On into an Emmy-winning film in 1993; this year’s Tribeca Film Festival included a screening followed by a panel discussion about AIDS and storytelling.

Search: Randy Shilts, Phil Tiemeyer, And the Band Played On, Tribeca Film Festival

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