This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease but also what should be done about it. Finally, the film deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus. Written by
In one scene, Don Francis (Matthew Modine) mentions that Dr. Robert Gallo would win a Nobel Prize, if his retrovirus research turned out to be successful in finding what causes A.I.D.S. That statement almost happened in reality, but in 2008, Gallo was excluded among the winners for such work, and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (played by Patrick Bauchau and Nathalie Baye, respectively) for their work on the discovery of H.I.V. See more »
The English subtitle translation of the French sequences contains errors. Most are minor, such as the English subtitles saying patients were afraid to come to a French hospital when the actual French said they were refusing to come, but in the first hospital scene, the doctor actually talks about "plaques" rather than "warts" as the subtitles indicated; plaques are the classic presentation of Kaposi's sarcoma. See more »
Blood Bank executive:
Is the CDC seriously suggesting that the blood industry spends $100M a year to use the test for the wrong disease because we have a handful of transfusion fatalities and eight dead hemophiliacs?
Dr. Don Francis:
How many dead hemophiliacs do you need? How many people have to die to make it cost effecient for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you again until the amount of money you begin spending on lawsuits make it more profitable for you to save ...
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I read this book in high school in the late 80's just as it was released. The book was excellent and gave a great educational lesson on HIV and AIDS. The movie was just as good. I was really touched at the end when "The last song" by Elton John was playing. The movie gave a great time-line of the virus.
It is so terrifying to think AIDS has actually been around since probably 1959 when a blood sample from a man from the Congo had died of a mysterious illness, and tests run on the blood sample today showed he did indeed have AIDS. The movie was very touching, this whole topic leaves a lump in my throat. I was 13 when AIDS had started making the news and in 1985 or 1986 my dad had a blood transfusion. We spend months worrying if he had contracted HIV. Thank god he got clean blood and he dodged a bullet, unlike the 25,000 people in the 70 and 80's who received tainted blood.
I got teary eyed when an HIV+ guy in the movie says "This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape."
The predictions were accurate. The scientists predicted there would be 40 million people worldwide infected with HIV by the turn of the century and that number has proved to be pretty much dead on, literally.
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