The found generation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The entities and individuals deserving a share of credit in the AIDS movement are marvelously diverse. Gay men in New York and San Francisco who refused to pass away in silence. Pharmaceutical companies that developed tests and antiretroviral drugs. Members of Congress from both parties who appropriated money to save lives outside their districts, outside their experience, outside their country. Taxpayers who paid the bills. Billionaire philanthropists, irritatingly persistent rock stars, nuns in Kericho. What other social movement, in its hall of fame, would need to reserve places for Gay Men’s Health Crisis and for George W. Bush, the author of PEPFAR?

And for Africans as well, who saw the world crash down on their heads from a blue sky. Heads of state who pulled together national plans. Families who routinely took in the children of the dead. A man named Moses, in a shack in Kampala, who proudly showed me his pink adherence book, with its careful checks each day for the pills he took.

There are criticisms to be made in the global response to AIDS — failures of empathy, policy and urgency — but the sum is an anecdote to cynicism.