How to Survive a Plague is a terrific documentary about ACT UP (currently streaming for free on netflix). ACT UP—AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power—was arguably the most successful grassroots organization ever. LBGT rights have advanced so rapidly in the past 10 years it is hard sometimes to remember what gay life was like in the early eighties. Much of the community life was underground; LBGT people faced tremendous discrimination in places like hospitals and so when gay men became sick with odd symptoms the medical system was close to respond.
Faced with their community literally dying in front of them, with hardly any support or treatment, and discrimination, ACT UP was formed. Through direct action they protested various venues, government and non-government, but more importantly they supported each other. They formed networks among themselves to determine treatment; they tried to solve their own problems by studying the research that was available and enlisted real researchers to help them and directly engaged with drug companies. As treatments became available they pushed for affordability. Watching the movie made me think about the power what committed people can accomplish, and where battles should be fought.