Discuss your reaction to the film. The DVD presents a point of view that the U.S. government essentially ignored the initial outbreak of AIDS in the early 1980’s out of political convenience.
“And the Band Played On” is a film uncovering the politics and horror surrounding AIDS during its start in the United States of America. I agree with the DVD’s point of view that the federal government ignored the initial outbreak of AIDS due to political convenience. The film’s allegations are true as the film presents that the U.S government skipped intricate medical research details. The DVD demonstrates the disagreements against countless self-interests, red tape, lack of funding, and egos affected the efforts to discover the disease. The film shows the battles Don Francis, among other researchers in the U.S. and France, struggled to identify and isolate the virus regardless of government neglect and public resistance.
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The film plot demonstrates the frustrations by medical experts and how the wins of Francis’s CDC associates. Lack of money for research, healthcare facilities turning away the sick, and blood banks not spending money on blood screening is adequate proof that the U.S. government ignored researchers’ initial efforts to discover details surrounding AIDS. The increased death rate among gay men in the cities prompted epidemiologist Don Francis to investigate the outbreak, which drives him to identify AIDS. However, his journey to discovering AIDS is not comfortable as he encounters opposition from influential doctors and politicians. This implies that research dealt with a bureaucracy and a federal government that appeared not to care. Therefore, I agree with the DVD’s view that the U.S. government ignored the initial emergence of AIDS in the 1980s.
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Based on your viewing of the video, what steps-if any-do you think that the government and the U.S. medical establishment could or should have taken to try to halt the disease during the period depicted by the DVD?
The government should have invested in the researchers to carry out robust research on why gay men were dying. After the identification of AIDS as the primary cause of death, Bill Kraus, who was representative for the gay community to request Democratic Party to acknowledge gay people as human beings (Sanford &
Spottiswoode, 2014). Ronald Reagan’s presidency should have recognized the gay community rather than looking at them get discriminated against. The White House was very silent on AIDS, which was very wrong as it was the body responsible for taking care of its citizens without discrimination. The government should have allocated adequate funding to public health as this would have allowed comprehensive research that would have provided an opportunity to examine the AIDS virus. The film asserts that President Reagan intended to reduce the amount of money given to public health and instead allocate that cash to the Department of Defense. In the film Phil Burton, a Congressman, states, “I will introduce a bill. But even if angels came down dancing like Rockettes, they would not be recognized by this administration with the word “gay” on it.” (Sanford & Spottiswoode, 2014). From all these factors, it is seen that the government did not support the research on AIDS when it would have financed the entire research and set appropriate measures to intervene for the gay community and halt the spread of AIDS.
How is the government and U.S. medical establishment’s approach to address the AIDS pandemic similar or different to how the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled currently?
There are parallels between President Trump administration’s mismanaging the Covid-19 and the Reagan administration’s inaction on HIV/AIDS outbreak. The 1980s and 1990s AIDS outbreak and the undesired interpersonal and political response to it educates us regarding societal responses to contagion and the association between the U.S healthcare system and the federal bureaucracy. The history of AIDS significantly varies from novel coronavirus, mainly due to the former’s unresolvable relationship with historically subdued communities, especially people of color, gay men, and intravenous drug abusers. According to Stanhope & Lancaster (2016) in 1981, medical experts started identifying and tracing mysterious cancer incidences impacting youthful gay men in New York and Lo Angeles. However, the government refused to act. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dubbed the disease as AIDS. The president’s press secretary was asked to define AIDS, and he said, “It is called the gay plague.” This triggered stigma among the affected people. Such stigmas are not seen in the management of Covid-19 regardless of the Trump presidency being a disgraceful endeavor to connect Coronavirus with East Asian and Chinese people, which has triggered violence and mistreatment against the Asian communities in America. The people who tested positive for Coronavirus have been acclaimed as being brave for their openness instead of being reviled like those who contracted HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s.
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