suppress the viral load with drugs and people can expect to live a  normal life expectancy.


When HIV/AIDS first appeared in the 1980s, it was a dreaded disease  that had no cure. The epidemic brought an enormous amount of fear,  suffering, and isolation for those who were infected. Today, we can  suppress the viral load with drugs and people can expect to live a  normal life expectancy.

Discussion Questions:

Prepare for this discussion by reading the two sites at the AVERTing  HIV and AIDS website, reading the play by Kushner, viewing the scene  from Angels in America, and by watching the documentary “Positive Youth.” This activity aligns with module outcomes 3 and 4.

  • Kushner’s play takes place during the early years of the HIV/AIDS  epidemic when it was designated a gay man’s disease in a culture that  was greatly homophobic. Angels in America is Kushner’s artistic  response to the epidemic and to the political climate when the  government was not responding well to the crisis. This was also a time  when antiretroviral drugs were available for the chosen few. Choose one  of the following characters and describe his or her particular torment  during this time: Joseph Porter Pitt, Harper Amaty Pitt, Louis Ironson,  or Prior Walter.
  • Roy M. Cohn is a loathsome character who was an anti-Semitic Jew and  a homophobic homosexual, among other things. How does Cohn respond to  hearing his diagnosis from his doctor, Henry?  How do you interpret his  threats, given the seriousness of his diagnosis?
  • In the documentary “Positive Youth,” filmed in 2012, we follow four  young people dealing with an HIV positive status. How have things  changed for HIV positive gay men since Kushner’s play and how have  things stayed the same? Please describe some of the choices that they  have made after their diagnosis that you find to be positive and  inspiring.

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