“How to Survive a Plague” examines the actions of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and their important impact on AIDS during the 80’s and 90’s.

how to survive a plague

“Even if you lived through this era, went to protests, wept over the AIDS quilt and believed yourself aware, director David France’s assured, seamless directorial debut, rich with archival footage, will teach you something about courage, dedication and the power of well-directed anger.” – Mary Pols, Time Magazine

What is ‘How to Survive a Plague’ about?

How to Survive a Plague tells the story of two coalitions, ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), whose fearless activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time.

In the dark days of 1987, the country was six years into the AIDS epidemic, a crisis that was still being largely ignored by government officials and health organizations — until the sudden emergence of the activist group ACT UP in Greenwich Village.

Their efforts would see them seize the reins of federal policy from the FDA and NIH, force the AIDS conversation into the 1992 presidential election, and lead the way to the discovery of effective AIDS drugs that saved countless lives.

How to Survive a Plague Premiere Date

“How to Survive a Plague” premieres on Monday, December 30th, 2013 on (Independent Lens) PBS.

About David France

First-time director and award-winning journalist David France, who has been covering the AIDS crisis for 30 years, culls from a huge amount of archival footage — most of it shot by the protestors themselves. Interspersed with contemporary interviews, the film is not just a historical document, but also an intimate and visceral recreation of the period through the personal stories of some of ACT UP and TAG’s leading participants. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, How to Survive a Plague captures both the joy and terror of those days, and the epic day-by-day battles that finally made AIDS survival possible.

How to Survive a Plague Details

Visit the How to Survive a Plague companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter.

“How to Survive a Plague” premieres on Monday, December 30th, 2013 on (Independent Lens) PBS.