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Books to Read About HIV/AIDS

The 1st of December is widely celebrated worldwide every year as World AIDS Day, which recognizes and raises awareness about the dreadful illness and celebrates the victories of the people who have survived through it. It is also dedicated to understanding and appreciating the effort taken up by the survivors of the HIV epidemic of the 1980s. 

Many written documents and stories about the same can be found reporting and educating on life and death with HIV that make an impactful contribution in the American literature of those times. We salute all the brave souls who are working to create awareness about HIV/AIDS, and we curated a list of eleven books that you all should check out - 


1. Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS by Elton John

Love is the Cure

After the death of a dear friend, Ryan, from the 1980's outbreak of the HIV epidemic, Elton John has made it his mission to first get his messy life on track and do something about the increasing cases of AIDS. Love is the cure documents Elton John's logistics and understanding of his AIDS foundation. 

Its main idea is to spread empathy and compassion towards survivors rather than spreading stigma against them. Elton John primarily focuses on making the reader understand that there is a chance of eradicating this persistent disease entirely. This book also accounts for other true-life stories of other people dear to Elton John, who suffered from AIDS. It does not go much deeper into Elton's life and instead stays on the topic of the disease and its cure. You can find the book here.

2. How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France

How to Survive a Plague

If you are a history research enthusiast who wants to know more about the epidemic, look no further! How to Survive a Plague is an emotionally moving story covering it all - from scientific experiments to activists protesting to reportage on historical and social events. 

This book especially pays a lot of attention to the gay community in America and how their lives were impacted by HIV. It also talks about the anti-AIDS drugs invented in those times that saved many lives because of the effort put in by the people fighting against it in all fields of work. You can find the book here.

3. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

Are you more into fiction? I've got you covered. The Great Believers is an incredible historical fiction story set in two alternating time frames - one in the past of 1920's Chicago, following a gay lead, Yale Tishman, whose art gallery was just about to have the time of its glory when in no time the AIDS epidemic upended his life, while the second story follows the life of Fiona who is tracing connections to her estranged daughter and is in search for how the AIDS epidemic paved the path of her life that she's currently leading. 

Both stories beautifully tie up all the loose ends, making it an often emotional but sometimes joyful read. The book is a highly researched and poignant work of art that emphasizes the lives of people who suffered during those rough periods and how it still makes a difference in the present scenario. You can find the book here.

4. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure is definitely the book you're looking for if you're a fan of romantic comedies with eye-opening fictional realities that set out the reader and the characters on the journey of finding truth while still sticking in the category of being age-appropriate. It is marked readable for teens and is an excellent way of introducing such a taboo topic, AIDS and sexual desires to teens in full spotlight.

The book is about the story of Simone, who is HIV positive, but nobody in her school knows about it. Finally, Simone knows that the best way to stay safe is to be celibate, but that's when a sexy, funny, and intelligent Miles Austin decides to enter Simone's life to test her resistance. You will not be disappointed with this book if you are a fan of books by Alice Oseman. You can find the book here.

5. In the Shadow of the Bridge: A Memoir by Joseph Caldwell

In the Shadow of the Bridge

Joseph Caldwell's memoir focuses on his life in Manhattan, meeting new artists and writers every now and then, becoming Rome's prize winner to the epidemic that scarred many lives, civil protests, and his volunteering at Saint Vincent's hospital while actively living his gay life with unexpected twists and turns of finding love in the city of New York. 

The book focuses on the hidden gay life of people in plain sight because of the AIDS crisis, the fear attached to it, and the many deaths followed by it. In the Shadow of the Bridge is a heartfelt account of life as a gay writer in the most troubling of times. You can find the book here.

6. The Chimp and The River - How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest by David Quammen

The Chimp and the River

The Chimp and the River is the spine-chilling documentary account of the origins of AIDS, taking a whole new direction of how the illness had started and progressed so much so that it caused an epidemic in the late 50s and 60s. 

It's a highly engaging and well-research reportage that will give you an insight into the undercover investigation and research of the illness, unraveling the mysteries of the wild and the connection it holds with the chimp population. The book also excerpts an adaptation of the Spillover book along with statistics and lots of complex data. You can find the book here.

7. Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha

Where We Go From Here

Where We Go from Here is an enthralling book about gay romance, sexualities, and self-acceptance. The book is set in Brazil and revolves around three friends and how their life is surrounded by HIV. Victor and Henrique are a gay couple, but later after having sex together, Victor finds out that Henrique is HIV positive. 

Just when he is tested negative, he meets Ian, who is newly diagnosed positive with HIV. Victor thinks that it would be nice to help him out as he puts the two of them in touch, hoping to find emotional and moral support for Ian from someone who knows what it is like to deal with AIDS. This book is perfect for fans of Adam Silvera. You can find the book here.

8. All the Young Men: How One Woman Risked It All To Care For The Dying by Ruth Coker Burks

All the Young Men

All the Young Men is a true revolutionary story of Ruth, who had once gone to a hospital to pay her friend a visit when she came across a room painted with red and nurses nervous about going through it to check the patient in need. So Ruth takes it upon herself to go through that door that everyone is scared of opening. She is known for the good deeds for the men suffering from the AIDS crisis, offering jobs, housings, funeral services as an "accidental activist." 

She has never looked back since then. It's a must-read for anyone who likes reading non-fiction, true life-based memoirs, and biographies of people who served significant contributions to such an important cause of the time that is still very much prevalent in the present. It's a profoundly inspiring, full of courage story that would appeal to anyone who reads it and wants to learn more about taking responsibility and helping people suffering from AIDS. You can find the book here.

9. AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge by Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge

If you don't know much about AIDS yourself or know someone suffering from AIDS and wants to offer help by being there for them, you've set your eyes on the right book. AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge is the ultimate 101 guide on AIDS and offers a detailed understanding of everything to know about the disease. 

It talks about the many stigmas surrounding this illness, various ways to comfort people who are suffering, and answers questions from patients and caregivers of AIDS survivors about the frequently asked questions about the gay disease and the perfect treatment approach. You can find the book here.

10. Living Hell: The Truth about AIDS and HIV by Josefina Guardia

Living Hell

Living Hell is a perfect compilation of real-life based stories of AIDS survivors and caregivers that would indefinitely inspire many. Josefina addresses the various causes of the disease and how often families and friends are not very supportive towards the patient, and the devastation that has fallen upon the patient. 

It also offers an understanding and shares empathy with survivors' pain, loneliness, and advice on making a patient's experience with AIDS less scary. Perfect for caregivers or anyone who wants to learn about the disease. You can find the book here.

11. Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

It is a moving story about a little girl and her uncle. June is a shy, fifteen-year-old girl whose best friend is her uncle, Finn. He's the only one she talks to, but things change, and June becomes lonely when Uncle Finn dies because of a mysterious disease that she does not have much clue about. So it is later when she finds out that there was someone else in Uncle Finn's life that almost shared as much compassion for him as she did.

She has questions, of course, but she knows that this unlikely friend may lead to the answers she's looking forward to unraveling. Brunt's approach to sex and homosexuality in this book is considered bold with many emotional climaxes. If you like reading about family and friendship lost in found in an unlikely acquaintance, then this is the perfect book for you! You can find the book here.

Conclusion -
AIDS is one such disease that not many people talk about and often feel ashamed when suffering from it. This list of 11 remarkable books on HIV will help you understand what the disease is actually like and encourage you to seek help or take better care of someone who needs help.

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