A Big Disease With A Little Name

Remembering the early years of the AIDS epidemic as told by people who lived through it.

Episodes

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Omnibus 120200612The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the Aids crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Peter Staley - a gay man who was just coming out of the closet as Aids hit New York at the turn of the 1980s.

Rupert Whitaker shares a similar story, describing how Aids 'decimated' the London gay scene - and how his then boyfriend, Terry Higgins, would become one of the first people to die of Aids in the UK.

Aids took the medical profession by surprise too, and Alison Moed Paolercio talks of her time working on the world's first dedicated Aids ward, at the San Francisco General Hospital.

And in London, Jonathan Weber led the first research into Aids in the UK, when he oversaw the treatment of some 400 patients at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

Omnibus 220200619The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the AIDS crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley about the formation of the AIDS activist group, ACT UP and how it put pressure on US authorities to speed-up research into potentially life-saving drugs.

ACT UP carried out some audacious public protests, which often left New York at a standstill, and it took on the drugs company Burroughs Wellcome and Wall Street investors to lower the price of the first approved AIDS treatment, AZT.

But AZT's benefits were short-lived, as HIV grew resistant to it. This left people with HIV/AIDS looking for new experimental treatment options and an underground network of 'buyers clubs' became a resource for still to be approved medication. Christopher Harris tells his story of running the Atlanta Buyers Club.

Forty years on since the first cases of AIDS emerged the series ends by reflecting on the ways the first wave of the AIDS crisis took its toll on the people who survived it, and asks how close are we to ending epidemic levels of HIV?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

01The Beginning20200608The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment – and no cure - is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past to a similar time, and the dawn of the HIV/AIDS crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

The series explores the emergence of HIV/AIDS through the stories of those who were on the front line. Speaking to gay men, doctors, nurses, politicians and activists, the series explores the confusion around the causes of this new disease, the frightening pace with which it spread, the pace of the political response and the devastating influence of conspiracy theories and fake news.

In this first episode, Peter Staley recalls moving to New York in 1983, to take up a job on Wall Street, as he puts it with 'one foot, if not two thirds of my body in the closet'.

He recalls first hearing about a new 'gay cancer' and the response among young gay men like himself. Some dismissed it as a condition only affecting promiscuous older gay men and was unlikely to affect the hot young things occupying the buzzing gay bars around Christopher Street and the East Village.

But it wasn't long before most gay men living in New York knew someone who was sick, and when Peter was himself diagnosed HIV positive, he says the years of denial quickly evaporated.

"It slapped you in the face. The reality took over and made everybody learn about it."

At 24-years-old. Peter had to face up to the fact that, at best, he probably had two years to live.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

When the first cases of AIDS emerged in New York, gay men responded with fear and denial.

The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment – and no cure - is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past to a similar time, and the dawn of the HIV/AIDS crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

The series explores the emergence of HIV/AIDS through the stories of those who were on the front line. Speaking to gay men, doctors, nurses, politicians and activists, the series explores the confusion around the causes of this new disease, the frightening pace with which it spread, the pace of the political response and the devastating influence of conspiracy theories and fake news.

In this first episode, Peter Staley recalls moving to New York in 1983, to take up a job on Wall Street, as he puts it with 'one foot, if not two thirds of my body in the closet'.

He recalls first hearing about a new 'gay cancer' and the response among young gay men like himself. Some dismissed it as a condition only affecting promiscuous older gay men and was unlikely to affect the hot young things occupying the buzzing gay bars around Christopher Street and the East Village.

But it wasn't long before most gay men living in New York knew someone who was sick, and when Peter was himself diagnosed HIV positive, he says the years of denial quickly evaporated.

"It slapped you in the face. The reality took over and made everybody learn about it."

At 24-years-old. Peter had to face up to the fact that, at best, he probably had two years to live.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

When the first cases of AIDS emerged in New York, gay men responded with fear and denial.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

When the first cases of AIDS emerged in New York, gay men responded with fear and denial.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

02The Decimation Of A Scene20200609When AIDS hit London’s gay scene in the early 1980s, many of those affected faced prejudice and fear, but the community soon rallied to raise awareness and care for dying patients.

Rupert Whitaker had come out at school at the age of 15, and became part of a new wave of young, gay men filling the buzzing gay club scene emerging around London's Soho.

But this boom in London's commercial gay scene also happened as a new disease emerged, which was initially affecting gay men - a disease originally known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency).

In 1982 Rupert's boyfriend, Terry Higgins, became one of the first people to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK, and his death motivated his friends to set up the UK's first charity dedicated to AIDS awareness, The Terrence Higgins Trust.

In this programme, Rupert looks back at how the British gay community was initially affected by AIDS and how it responded.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

AIDS hit London's gay scene hard in the 1980s but the community rallied to raise awareness

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

AIDS hit London's gay scene hard in the 1980s but the community rallied to raise awareness

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

03Ward 5b20200610In the early 1980s, Alison Moed Paolercio was taking shifts at the San Francisco General Hospital, while studying for her nursing degree. It was there she first noticed young men in isolation units, as a result of a mystery illness they had developed.

What shocked Alison was the disdain her fellow nurses showed for these patients, who were at that time exclusively young, gay men.

"I had never really encountered that kind of prejudice among nurses before," she says. "I was angry. And it made me less afraid of taking care of them, perhaps."

What followed was the opening of the first dedicated AIDS ward in the world, where Alison was one of the first dozen nurses charged with taking care of patients suffering from this new and complex disease.

The staff on Ward 5B and the local community created an holistic approach to caring for AIDS patients, which would be known as The San Francisco Model, and which would be emulated around the world.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

In 1983 the first ward dedicated to AIDS opened at the San Francisco General Hospital.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

04The Doctor20200611The story of the UK's first research into AIDS, which began in 1982.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

In 1979, as Jonathan Weber was finishing his studies in medicine, he was sure he was going to go into the infectious diseases field - a potentially bad career decision at the time, as it was thought the war was won on such diseases.

But he learned about a new pattern of infections affecting gay men in America, and it was suggested that he start looking for cases in the UK too.

In 1982, he began working with the first cohort of AIDS patients at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where he led the treatment of some 400 patients.

This pioneering work was the first research into AIDS in the UK - work Professor Weber describes as very much a partnership with the patients who gave their time and blood to better understand this emerging epidemic.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Weber/Imperial College London]

05Don't Die Of Ignorance20200612Norman Fowler recalls his time leading the British government's response to AIDS.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Norman Fowler recalls his time leading the British government's response to AIDS.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

In 1987 the British government launched its Don't Die of Ignorance campaign - a public health message which would define AIDS for a generation.

Behind the campaign was the then Secretary or State for Health and Social Services, Norman Fowler. In this episode he recalls the slow response to AIDS within Whitehall, and how he decided to take charge.

Through some careful political manoeuvring, he reveals how he side-stepped Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's concerns about explicit language, and that any mention of sex might encourage young people to take more risks,

He also reveals the prejudice of high-profile public figures, and how they motivated him to do something about the emerging epidemic.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Norman Fowler recalls his time leading the British government's response to AIDS.

In 1987 the British government launched its Don't Die of Ignorance campaign - a public health message which would define AIDS for a generation.

Behind the campaign was the then Secretary or State for Health and Social Services, Norman Fowler. In this episode he recalls the slow response to AIDS within Whitehall, and how he decided to take charge.

Through some careful political manoeuvring, he reveals how he side-stepped Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's concerns about explicit language, and that any mention of sex might encourage young people to take more risks,

He also reveals the prejudice of high-profile public figures, and how they motivated him to do something about the emerging epidemic.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Norman Fowler recalls his time leading the British government's response to AIDS.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

In 1987 the British government launched its Don't Die of Ignorance campaign - a public health message which would define AIDS for a generation.

Behind the campaign was the then Secretary or State for Health and Social Services, Norman Fowler. In this episode he recalls the slow response to AIDS within Whitehall, and how he decided to take charge.

Through some careful political manoeuvring, he reveals how he side-stepped Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's concerns about explicit language, and that any mention of sex might encourage young people to take more risks,

He also reveals the prejudice of high-profile public figures, and how they motivated him to do something about the emerging epidemic.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Norman Fowler recalls his time leading the British government's response to AIDS.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

06Act Up Fights Back20200615How ACT UP led the fight for the rights of those affected by HIV-AIDS in America

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

How ACT UP led the fight for the rights of those affected by HIV-AIDS in America

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

A meeting in March 1987 at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in New York's West Village would go on to change the national conversation on AIDS in America.

At the time there were 50,000 reported cases of AIDS in America, and 40,000 deaths - and largely silence from the country’s President, Ronald Reagan.

"It was very obvious that our government was going to let us die," says activist Peter Staley.

The formation of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power - ACT UP - put unprecedented pressure on the US government to speed up the approval of new treatments for people living with AIDS, and expand access to trials of experimental new drugs.

In this episode Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley recall their time with ACT UP, and how its public demonstrations, which frequently brought New York to a standstill, helped improve access to potentially life-saving treatments for people living with HIV-AIDS and other diseases.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How ACT UP led the fight for the rights of those affected by HIV-AIDS in America

A meeting in March 1987 at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in New York's West Village would go on to change the national conversation on AIDS in America.

At the time there were 50,000 reported cases of AIDS in America, and 40,000 deaths - and largely silence from the country’s President, Ronald Reagan.

"It was very obvious that our government was going to let us die," says activist Peter Staley.

The formation of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power - ACT UP - put unprecedented pressure on the US government to speed up the approval of new treatments for people living with AIDS, and expand access to trials of experimental new drugs.

In this episode Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley recall their time with ACT UP, and how its public demonstrations, which frequently brought New York to a standstill, helped improve access to potentially life-saving treatments for people living with HIV-AIDS and other diseases.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How ACT UP led the fight for the rights of those affected by HIV-AIDS in America

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

A meeting in March 1987 at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in New York's West Village would go on to change the national conversation on AIDS in America.

At the time there were 50,000 reported cases of AIDS in America, and 40,000 deaths - and largely silence from the country’s President, Ronald Reagan.

"It was very obvious that our government was going to let us die," says activist Peter Staley.

The formation of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power - ACT UP - put unprecedented pressure on the US government to speed up the approval of new treatments for people living with AIDS, and expand access to trials of experimental new drugs.

In this episode Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley recall their time with ACT UP, and how its public demonstrations, which frequently brought New York to a standstill, helped improve access to potentially life-saving treatments for people living with HIV-AIDS and other diseases.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How ACT UP led the fight for the rights of those affected by HIV-AIDS in America

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

07The Azt Price War20200616In 1987 the drug AZT was seen as a breakthrough in fighting AIDS - but it was expensive.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

In 1987 the drug AZT was seen as a breakthrough in fighting AIDS - but it was expensive.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

In 1987 the drug AZT was heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, but its $10,000 price tag also made it the most expensive drug in history at the time.

As a member of the AIDS activist network ACT UP, Peter Staley fought to lower the price of AZT by taking on the drug manufacturer, Burroughs Wellcome.

In this programme he tells the story of how he occupied the company's HQ and took his campaign to the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in the fight to lower the price of AIDS medication.

In 1987 the drug AZT was seen as a breakthrough in fighting AIDS - but it was expensive.

In 1987 the drug AZT was heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, but its $10,000 price tag also made it the most expensive drug in history at the time.

As a member of the AIDS activist network ACT UP, Peter Staley fought to lower the price of AZT by taking on the drug manufacturer, Burroughs Wellcome.

In this programme he tells the story of how he occupied the company's HQ and took his campaign to the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in the fight to lower the price of AIDS medication.

In 1987 the drug AZT was seen as a breakthrough in fighting AIDS - but it was expensive.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

In 1987 the drug AZT was heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, but its $10,000 price tag also made it the most expensive drug in history at the time.

As a member of the AIDS activist network ACT UP, Peter Staley fought to lower the price of AZT by taking on the drug manufacturer, Burroughs Wellcome.

In this programme he tells the story of how he occupied the company's HQ and took his campaign to the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in the fight to lower the price of AIDS medication.

In 1987 the drug AZT was seen as a breakthrough in fighting AIDS - but it was expensive.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

08The Atlanta Buyers Club20200617Underground buyers clubs sold experimental AIDS drugs before regulators approved them.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

In the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, officially licensed drugs were hard to come by, but there were plenty being trialled around the world.

As a result, a network of underground operations began to spring up where these experimental drugs were bought and distributed to AIDS patients who didn't have time to sit and wait for drug regulators to make their minds up about approving new treatments.

Diagnosed with AIDS himself, Christopher Harris went in search of anything which might help prolong his life and found a buyers club being run out of a derelict building in his hometown of Atlanta - and he was soon helping to run the operation.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Underground buyers clubs sold experimental AIDS drugs before regulators approved them.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

In the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, officially licensed drugs were hard to come by, but there were plenty being trialled around the world.

As a result, a network of underground operations began to spring up where these experimental drugs were bought and distributed to AIDS patients who didn't have time to sit and wait for drug regulators to make their minds up about approving new treatments.

Diagnosed with AIDS himself, Christopher Harris went in search of anything which might help prolong his life and found a buyers club being run out of a derelict building in his hometown of Atlanta - and he was soon helping to run the operation.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Underground buyers clubs sold experimental AIDS drugs before regulators approved them.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

08The Atlanta Buyer's Club20200617In the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, officially licensed drugs were hard to come by, but there were plenty being trialled around the world.

As a result, a network of underground operations began to spring up where these experimental drugs were bought and distributed to AIDS patients who didn't have time to sit and wait for drug regulators to make their minds up about approving new treatments.

Diagnosed with AIDS himself, Christopher Harris went in search of anything which might help prolong his life and found a buyers club being run out of a derelict building in his hometown of Atlanta - and he was soon helping to run the operation.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How experimental AIDS drugs were sold through an underground network in Atlanta.

How experimental AIDS drugs were sold through an underground network in Atlanta.

Underground buyers clubs sold experimental AIDS drugs before regulators approved them.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

09The Aids Denialists20200618How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fight against AIDS

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fight against AIDS

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

How conspiracy theories and denial about the causes of AIDS had devastating consequences in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

When Thabo Mbeki took office as the second President of South Africa in 1999, the country was emerging as the global epicentre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While effective treatment was beginning to emerge to suppress HIV and stop the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies, Mr Mbeki was sceptical.

He had tapped into a network of alternative theories about AIDS which emerged in the USA during the 1980s, fuelled by the work of Professor Peter Duesberg. These theories claimed that HIV was only a passenger virus and AIDS was the result of poverty and lifestyle choices, such as recreational drug use.

In this episode we hear from Professor Nicoli Nattrass and Professor Seth Kalichman, who have studied the AIDS denialist community and what drives their conspiracies.

Professor Nattrass was part of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) which took President Mbeki to court in 2002, to force him to grant access to anti-retroviral treatment for pregnant women in South Africa, to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fight against AIDS

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

How conspiracy theories and denial about the causes of AIDS had devastating consequences in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

When Thabo Mbeki took office as the second President of South Africa in 1999, the country was emerging as the global epicentre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While effective treatment was beginning to emerge to suppress HIV and stop the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies, Mr Mbeki was sceptical.

He had tapped into a network of alternative theories about AIDS which emerged in the USA during the 1980s, fuelled by the work of Professor Peter Duesberg. These theories claimed that HIV was only a passenger virus and AIDS was the result of poverty and lifestyle choices, such as recreational drug use.

In this episode we hear from Professor Nicoli Nattrass and Professor Seth Kalichman, who have studied the AIDS denialist community and what drives their conspiracies.

Professor Nattrass was part of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) which took President Mbeki to court in 2002, to force him to grant access to anti-retroviral treatment for pregnant women in South Africa, to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fight against AIDS

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

09There's No Such Thing As Aids20200618How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fights against AIDS

How conspiracy theories and denial about the causes of AIDS had devastating consequences in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

When Thabo Mbeki took office as the second President of South Africa in 1999, the country was emerging as the global epicentre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While effective treatment was beginning to emerge to suppress HIV and stop the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies, Mr Mbeki was sceptical.

He had tapped into a network of alternative theories about AIDS which emerged in the USA during the 1980s, fuelled by the work of Professor Peter Duesberg. These theories claimed that HIV was only a passenger virus and AIDS was the result of poverty and lifestyle choices, such as recreational drug use.

In this episode we hear from Professor Nicoli Nattrass and Professor Seth Kalichman, who have studied the AIDS denialist community and what drives their conspiracies.

Professor Nattrass was part of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) which took President Mbeki to court in 2002, to force him to grant access to anti-retroviral treatment for pregnant women in South Africa, to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How conspiracy theories and denial had devastating consequences in the fights against AIDS

10The End Of Hiv/aids?20200619The 'triple cocktail' was a game-changer in treating HIV/AIDS when it arrived in 1996 - a combination of drugs which gave life to many men and women who were on the verge of death.

However, for a generation of people living with HIV who had been expecting to die, the prospect of having to suddenly plan the rest of their lives was a burden some found hard to manage.

As those drugs developed further, today it is possible to suppress HIV to 'undetectable' levels, with very few side effects for those taking the medication - but there is still no cure on the horizon.

But do we really need one to eradicate the epidemic spread of HIV - and in turn, the stigma which still affects many people with the virus?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How close are we to eradicating epidemic levels of HIV - and do we need a cure to do so?

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The 'triple cocktail' was a game-changer in treating HIV/AIDS when it arrived in 1996 - a combination of drugs which gave life to many men and women who were on the verge of death.

However, for a generation of people living with HIV who had been expecting to die, the prospect of having to suddenly plan the rest of their lives was a burden some found hard to manage.

As those drugs developed further, today it is possible to suppress HIV to 'undetectable' levels, with very few side effects for those taking the medication - but there is still no cure on the horizon.

But do we really need one to eradicate the epidemic spread of HIV - and in turn, the stigma which still affects many people with the virus?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

How close are we to eradicating epidemic levels of HIV - and do we need a cure to do so?

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

How close are we to eradicating epidemic levels of HIV - and do we need a cure to do so?

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

How close are we to eradicating epidemic levels of HIV - and do we need a cure to do so?

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

The 'triple cocktail' was a game-changer in treating HIV/AIDS when it arrived in 1996 - a combination of drugs which gave life to many men and women who were on the verge of death.

However, for a generation of people living with HIV who had been expecting to die, the prospect of having to suddenly plan the rest of their lives was a burden some found hard to manage.

As those drugs developed further, today it is possible to suppress HIV to 'undetectable' levels, with very few side effects for those taking the medication - but there is still no cure on the horizon.

But do we really need one to eradicate the epidemic spread of HIV - and in turn, the stigma which still affects many people with the virus?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic

11Omnibus 220200619The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the AIDS crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley about the formation of the AIDS activist group, ACT UP and how it put pressure on US authorities to speed-up research into potentially life-saving drugs.

ACT UP carried out some audacious public protests, which often left New York at a standstill, and it took on the drugs company Burroughs Wellcome and Wall Street investors to lower the price of the first approved AIDS treatment, AZT.

But AZT's benefits were short-lived, as HIV grew resistant to it. This left people with HIV/AIDS looking for new experimental treatment options and an underground network of 'buyers clubs' became a resource for still to be approved medication. Christopher Harris tells his story of running the Atlanta Buyers Club.

Forty years on since the first cases of AIDS emerged the series ends by reflecting on the ways the first wave of the AIDS crisis took its toll on the people who survived it, and asks how close are we to ending epidemic levels of HIV?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the AIDS crisis, through the stories of people who lived it

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the AIDS crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Maria Maggenti and Peter Staley about the formation of the AIDS activist group, ACT UP and how it put pressure on US authorities to speed-up research into potentially life-saving drugs.

ACT UP carried out some audacious public protests, which often left New York at a standstill, and it took on the drugs company Burroughs Wellcome and Wall Street investors to lower the price of the first approved AIDS treatment, AZT.

But AZT's benefits were short-lived, as HIV grew resistant to it. This left people with HIV/AIDS looking for new experimental treatment options and an underground network of 'buyers clubs' became a resource for still to be approved medication. Christopher Harris tells his story of running the Atlanta Buyers Club.

Forty years on since the first cases of AIDS emerged the series ends by reflecting on the ways the first wave of the AIDS crisis took its toll on the people who survived it, and asks how close are we to ending epidemic levels of HIV?

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the AIDS crisis, through the stories of people who lived it

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

Remembering the early years of the AIDS crisis, through the stories of people who lived it

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

12Omnibus 120200612The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the Aids crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Peter Staley - a gay man who was just coming out of the closet as Aids hit New York at the turn of the 1980s.

Rupert Whitaker shares a similar story, describing how Aids 'decimated' the London gay scene - and how his then boyfriend, Terry Higgins, would become one of the first people to die of Aids in the UK.

Aids took the medical profession by surprise too, and Alison Moed Paolercio talks of her time working on the world's first dedicated Aids ward, at the San Francisco General Hospital.

And in London, Jonathan Weber led the first research into Aids in the UK, when he oversaw the treatment of some 400 patients at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the Aids epidemic, as told by those who lived through it.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The coronavirus epidemic has shaken many of us out of a complacent view that if we get sick, doctors and nurses will know how to make us better again.

Living in a time where there is limited treatment - and no cure - for a new disease is a new experience for many of us, but not all.

A Big Disease with a Little Name looks back to the recent past, to a similar time, and the dawn of the Aids crisis, which to date has affected 75 million people around the world, of which some 32 million have died.

In this Omnibus edition, we hear from Peter Staley - a gay man who was just coming out of the closet as Aids hit New York at the turn of the 1980s.

Rupert Whitaker shares a similar story, describing how Aids 'decimated' the London gay scene - and how his then boyfriend, Terry Higgins, would become one of the first people to die of Aids in the UK.

Aids took the medical profession by surprise too, and Alison Moed Paolercio talks of her time working on the world's first dedicated Aids ward, at the San Francisco General Hospital.

And in London, Jonathan Weber led the first research into Aids in the UK, when he oversaw the treatment of some 400 patients at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

Narrator: Chris Pavlo
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Remembering the early years of the Aids epidemic, as told by those who lived through it.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

Remembering the early years of the Aids epidemic, as told by those who lived through it.

Charting the early years of the AIDS crisis, as told by the people who lived through it

OMNI01Omnibus 120200612Remembering the early years of the Aids epidemic, as told by those who lived through it.

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Remembering the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

OMNI02Omnibus 220200619Remembering the early years of the AIDS crisis, through the stories of people who lived it

Peter Staley looks at the political, medical and cultural history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic