NONFICTION

VIRAL: The Fight Against AIDS in America

176p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Viking. Jun. 2019. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780425287200.
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RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Following Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights, Bausum chronicles another chapter in queer history: the HIV/AIDS crisis. Her three-part investigation begins before the epidemic, describing scenes of queer liberation in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The "hedonistic crescendo" of the 1970s brought bathhouses, dance clubs, drugs, disco music, and free love. For gay men, the sexual freedom also introduced a mystery disease. Initially diagnosed as Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)—a slow-progressing cancer—the disease shook the queer community and beyond when it began to rapidly spread. Activist organizations like ACT UP and its predecessors pushed the Center for Disease Control and multiple presidential administrations to research an affordable cure, arguing that "SILENCE = DEATH." Bausum details the revolution while honoring some of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost. Expertly interweaving quotes from a variety of firsthand sources (medical professionals, writers, activists, etc.), Bausum's precise journalism takes on an engaging narrative quality. Occasional black-and-white photographs or images highlight key figures. Though her focus, like history's, tends to prioritize the white gay male experience, Bausum adds context to shift the focus onto other marginalized groups (particularly people of color) who were victimized in the HIV/AIDS panic. The structure paves the way for plenty of dramatic tension, resulting in a rousing, sympathetic account of a community's pain, fear, rage, and resiliency. A time line, source notes, and bibliography are appended.
VERDICT Well-researched and expertly paced, this compelling title deserves a place in all teen collections.

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