Tag Archives: AIDS

Martel, Yann. The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

helsinki   helsinki3d

Inventive in form and timeless in content, each story is moving and thought-provoking. A Canadian university student visiting Washington, D.C., experiences the Vietnam War through an intense musical encounter. Variations of a warden’s letter to the mother of a man he has just executed reveal how each life is contained in its end. A young man’s fascination with the mirror-making machine he finds in his grandmother’s attic is juxtaposed with the reminiscences it evokes from his grandmother. And, in the exquisite title story, a young man dying of AIDS joins his friend in fashioning a story of the Roccamatio family of Helsinki, set against the yearly march of the twentieth century.

Publisher: Canongate Books
Year: 2005
ISBN-10: 1841956120


Boyle, Danny (dir). Trainspotting


A wild, freeform, Rabelaisian trip through the darkest recesses of Edinburgh low-life, focusing on Mark Renton and his attempt to give up his heroin habit, and how the latter affects his relationship with family and friends: Sean Connery wannabe Sick Boy, dimbulb Spud, psycho Begbie, 14-year-old girlfriend Diane, and clean-cut athlete Tommy, who’s never touched drugs but can’t help being curious about them…

Producers: Andrew Macdonald
Year: 1996
Director:Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge

button_hyms (teaching resource – drug use)

Peeters, Frederick. Blue Pills a positive love story

One summer night at a teenage house party, Fred met Cati.Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembers her gracefulness juxtaposed with a wonderful, wild abandon. They meet again at a New Year’s Party in 1999, and this time their connection is instantaneous. A few weeks later, when it looks like things might get serious, a very nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters’ traces the development of their emotional and sexual intimacy. The silver lining in their lives is the wonderful, down-to-earth doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to confront their fears about sex and fully realize their passionate connection. But when Cati’s son gets sick and they have to administer a gruelling treatment (including the blue pills of the title), Fred comes face to face with death. His questions about life, love and illness are played out in a Socratic dialogue with a (very wise) mammoth who ultimately helps him to recognize that living with illness is also a gift; it has freed him to savour his life with Cati.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 2008
ISBN-10: 0224082396

Viewer Comments:

I enjoyed this graphic novel. Frank and insightful in it’s handling of relationships against the background of HIV in the age of HAART. I do like the way graphic novels allow new ways of expressing inner thoughts.

Gunn, T. The Man with Night Sweats

Thom Gunn’s The Man With Night Sweats shows him writing at the height of his powers… The book ends with a set of poems about the deaths of friends from AIDS. With their unflinching directness, compassion and grace, they are among the most moving statements yet to have been provoked by the disease.

Author: Gunn,Thom
Title: The Man with Night Sweats
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Year: 1992
ISBN: 0571162576

Springsteen, Bruce. The Streets of Philadelphia

Released in 1994 as part of Philadelphia soundtrack


I was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
On the streets of Philadelphia

I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of Philadelphia

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip the skin

The night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia

Murphy, Dervla. The Ukimwi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe

In January 1992, Dervla Murphy prescribed herself several carefree months and embarked on a cycle tour (pedalling and pushing) from Kenya to Zimbabwe via Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia on the cyclist’s equivalent of a Rolls Royce called Lear. Before long, she realized that for travellers who wish to remain stress-free, Africa is the wrong continent. Inevitably she was caught up in the harrowing problems of the peoples she met; the devastating effects of AIDS (ukimwi is Swahili for AIDS), drought and economic collapse; scepticism about Western “aid schemes”; and corruption and incompetence, both white and black.

Publisher: Flamingo
ISBN: 978-0006548027

Viewer Comments:


I really enjoyed this book – its a travel book with attitude! Although aspects of the AIDS epidemic and the politics of East Africa have changed in the last twenty years it is still a fascinating account – and will get you thinking. Perhaps something to read when you are dreaming about that year five elective…?

Sontag, S. Illness as metaphor, and AIDS and its metaphors

In Illness as Metaphor , Sontag argues that the myths and metaphors surrounding disease can kill by instilling shame and guilt in the sick, thus delaying them from seeking treatment,” wrote PW. She sees, and discusses provocatively, a similar process at work in the case of AIDS.

Author: Sontag, Susan
Title: Illness as metaphor, and AIDS and its metaphors
Year: 1991
ISBN: 0140124276

Viewer Comments:


This is the first book I read ‘because it was on the ‘worth a look’ list’. It is really two extended essays on what Sontag saw as the dangers of ‘metaphor’. When we ‘wage a war on cancer’ when we seek ‘magic bullets’ in what ways do these ‘forms of words’ shape what may actually happen. It dates slightly, the first essay provoked by Sontag’s own cancer diagnosis seems to me wrapped up in criticising a ‘think positive’ ethos that has perhaps somewhat changed, the AIDS essay again is of its time, with some aspects of the epidemic having now moved on. Not a pool-side read, but a bright and lively mind, and good writing that will make you think.


Demme, Jonathan (dir). Philadelphia

Mike Hardey HYMS: Inspired by a true story about a lawyer who has AIDS and is also gay. Taking on stereotypes and prevailing fears of HIV and AIDS, Philadelphia delves into the struggle with disease and the subsequent loss of his job. Captures the attitudes of the times and attempts to break down barriers.

Director:Jonathan Demme
Studio: Columbia/Tristar
Year: 1994

(spoiler alert)

Viewer Comments:


I’ve also posted ‘The Streets of Philadelphia‘ by Bruce Springsteen, taken from the soundtrack album.

Shilts, R. And the band played on: politics, people and the AIDs epidemic

An exhaustive account of the early years of the AIDS  crisis, this outlines the medical, social and political forces behind the epidemic’s  origin and rapid spread

Author: Shilts, Randy
Title: And the band played on: politics, people and the AIDs epidemic
Publisher: New York : St Martin’s Griffin
Year: 2007
ISBN: 0312374631