During the tumultuous past week and a half since the protests began, I have begun watching the documentary “How to Survive a Plague”. I am about half way through this work that painstakingly assembles footage from the 1980s to early 1990s AIDS activism in the US.
The focus is on one organization known as Act Up. About 10 years ago, I took part in an Act Up protest outside of Abbot Laboratories in New Jersey with my fellow students from the Princeton University Student Global AIDS Campaign, Joyce Hwang, Ed Xia and I believe many others who for some reason I am forgetting. Watching this film now as an MPh student is like coming full circle.
In terms of research, ACT UP sought to include people affected by the HIV epidemics – the LGBT community – in addition to people infected with virus in national agenda-setting for clinical research. I feel now that as member of MSM community – though I will not elaborate as to which criteria of the definition I meet – who is engaged in research pertaining to HIV in MSM, I am fulfilling what they sought. I may not be HIV positive, but I am gay and in this way participation of the end-users of research in the academic endeavors to achieve breakthroughs is taking place.