Aids: The Aids Generation “Lazarus” 11 July 2022: Episode 3 on BBC Two
In a blaze of hope, the first drug to be believed to prolong the lives of those with HIV infections is hailed as a potential ‘miracle cure’. Trials get underway, and hopes are high. But soon, severe and debilitating side effects begin to show themselves, and many of those participating in the trials become desperately sick. The results of the failed AZT trials are released in 1993 and provoke backlash against both drug companies and, sometimes, the doctors and nurses caring for Aids patients.
Many in the gay and HIV communities begin to take further action for themselves, and a wave of revolutionary activism and direct action builds momentum. Complementary therapies and quack cures are tried as those living with HIV longer-term attempt to stave off an Aids-defining diagnosis.
As infections rise further outside the gay community, women are significantly affected and turn to the now-established community groups for help. Stigma and fear are still deeply ingrained in the way the public reacts to the virus.
The stories of men including John, Jeremy and Tony, recorded at the time, bring these experiences to life. Their real voices are lip-synced by actors, giving first-hand insight into their lives at the time. They blaze a trail through self-care and activism, finding agency and helping others to find their voices. Ultimately, they begin to face the inevitability of their decline and deaths.
Peak deaths are reached, and hospitals and hospices have to work together to cope with the numbers of patients who need palliative care. Behind the scenes, trials have been taking place with combinations of different drugs, although each is eventually resisted by the evolving virus that is HIV.
In 1995, a final element called a protease inhibitor is developed, and completes the drug combination that finally proves successful in managing HIV. A treatment has been discovered, against all the odds, for those who can access it. In Britain’s hospitals, patients responding well to these new medications experience the ‘Lazarus effect’, leaving their hospital beds to face unexpected futures.
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About Aids: The Unheard Tapes
Innovative series featuring interviews recorded at the height of the AIDS crisis in 80s and 90s Britain, lip-synced by actors, telling the story of HIV and AIDS in their own words.
This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.