ACCEPTABLE RISKS by Jonathan Kwitny


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 An engrossing view from the trenches of the war on AIDS, by investigative reporter Kwitny (The Crimes of Patriots, 1987, etc.). Kwitny focuses on two combatants--both gay and HIV-negative- -against bureaucracy and the medical establishment: Jim Corti, an L.A. nurse who's become an expert in the underground drug trade, smuggling unproven AIDS drugs into the US; and Martin Delaney, a San Francisco business consultant who's used his negotiating expertise to work for change within the system. The story begins in the mid-1980's with a simple run by Corti to Tijuana for ribavirin, unavailable in the US (although manufactured here) but sold in Mexico. As word and demand spread and as new drugs surface, Corti's travels widen, taking him all over the globe. Meanwhile, the politically savvy Delaney takes a leading role in pressuring the FDA to change its drug-approval regulations and in persuading doctors to participate in community-based research studies to test new drugs. While Corti is busy bribing Chinese factory managers with pornographic videos to get compound Q or is mailing dextran sulfate labeled as ``kettles'' or ``puzzles'' back from Japan, Delaney is at Robert Gallo's National Cancer Institute lab discussing new drugs or at meetings of researchers, regulators, and pharmaceutical manufacturers searching for ways to speed the process of getting new drugs to AIDS sufferers. Kwitny re-creates conversations based largely on the recollections of Corti and Delaney, with corroboration from other participants when possible. Differing versions of particular events are given in end-of-book notes. An up-close and affecting account. For a broader view of the work of AIDS activists, see Peter S. Arno and Karyn L. Feiden's Against the Odds (p. 363).

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-73244-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992