SURVIVING AIDS by Michael Callen


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From the activist who founded PWA (People With AIDS)--a tightly written and frequently witty study celebrating the views of long-term AIDS survivors who are still enjoying life and have no plans to die in the near future. Taking a militant stand against ""AIDS fatalism,"" Callen--who himself was diagnosed with the syndrome in the early 80's--presents ""the methods and approaches"" that PWAs adopt to avoid succumbing to the myth that the disease entails an automatic death sentence. He forges through ""a jungle of conflicting statistics"" and estimates that ten percent of those with AIDS-related maladies live comfortably for three years or more. To augment his case, he interviews 13 who have beat the odds. While most combine Western medicine with nontraditional alternatives, a few are quite unorthodox in their health maintenance by sticking to their junk food, alcohol, and (in the case of one) cocaine habits. But all approach their condition with ""friskiness"" and ""pragmatic optimism."" Callen weaves his journalism with a personal history of promiscuity during the 70's and his subsequent career in AIDS politics after acquiring the syndrome. A proud atheist, he is reluctant to condone New Age, holistic, and macrobiotic treatments and prefers his own regimen of ""Luck, Classic Coke and the love of a good man."" He also has stem reservations about AZT and other toxic prescriptions. Though his tone is optimistic, Callen shares depressing accounts of patronizing, even hostile, reactions from physicians, AIDS activists, and ailing PWAs who see vocal survivors as a threat to research funds. Refreshingly candid, unsentimental, and sometimes angry, Callen's report blasts much of the media's lugubrious ""AIDSpeak"" and convinces us that ""there's no right way or wrong way"" to cheat death.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1990
Publisher: HarperCollins