Fighting a plague

Do you remember when Earvin “Magic” Johnson revealed to the world he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS?

He had to quit playing professional basketball. That was in 1991. Many observers thought he’d die soon from the disease. The HIV virus would make him vulnerable to every infection known to human beings and he would succumb.

Magic Johnson is still very much alive and is thriving.

How did he do it? Well, an encore Independent Lens presentation, which airs Monday at 9 p.m. on Panhandle PBS, chronicles the work of two grassroots coalitions that have fought to turn HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable condition.

“How to Survive a Plague” chronicles the work of ACT UP and Treatment Action Group, which challenged the pharmaceutical industry and got drug companies to accelerate research and development of drugs now used to treat HIV patients.

The film is produced by David France, who’s been writing about AIDS since 1982 and has earned a reputation of being of the better known chroniclers of the history of the disease.

HIV/AIDS remains a potentially deadly disease. It’s no longer an automatic death sentence. Take a look at “How to Survive a Plague” and learn how modern medicine has transformed it into something that can be managed.


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