Writer Susan Sontag died Wednesday at age 71 of leukemia. We listen back to two interviews with her: a 1989 conversation about her book AIDS and Its Metaphors; and 1993 interview conducted shortly after Sontag returned from Sarajevo, where she directed a performance of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in Serbo-Croatian.
Mary Fisher was the face of AIDS/HIV at the Republican National Convention in 1992 where she gave a speech imploring the party to lift the "shroud of silence" about the disease. Fisher comes from a wealthy prominent Republican family. Her father, Max Fisher was Honorary Chairman of the Bush/Quayle '92 National Finance Committee. Since she went public about her HIV-positive status, Fisher has been an eloquent voice in the fight against AIDS misinformation and discrimination. She's also the founder of the Family AIDS Network, Inc.
Gossip columnist-turned novelist Michael Musto. Musto writes a column for The Village Voice (called La Dolce Musto) that follows New York City's avant-garde social scene. Musto's columns usually ignore the comings and goings of the Donald Trumps in favor of highlighting some about-to-be-discovered artist or performer. In 1986, Musto wrote Downtown, a guide book to the Manhattan party scene. His new book, Manhattan On The Rocks, is a novel about the party scene and the most sought after gossip columnist in New York.
Public health expert Ronald Bayer says that the AIDS epidemic is forcing medical professionals to rethink issues of privacy and mandatory screening. Complicating the matter is the fact that the disease disproportionately affects vulnerable communities like homosexuals, people of color, and intravenous drug users. Bayer says one of best ways to deal with AIDS is to change the sexual climate of the country, wherein individuals become more forthright about communication and protection.
George Whitmore, author of Someone Was Here, profiles of people whose lives have been transformed by AIDS, like the 32-year-old New York advertising executive, a counselor in a gay men's health center, health workers at an AIDS clinic in a municipal hospital. The book grew out of a highly acclaimed 1985 article in The New York Times Magazine about a man with AIDS and his counselor at a health center.
Cleve Jones, founder of the Names Project, which inspired the sewing of three-foot by six-foot panels in memory of victims of AIDS. The project culminated in the assembly of the patches in Washington last October in a quilt the size of two football fields. A 24-city tour of the quilt to raise money for AIDS research starts later this month. (Interview by Faith Middleton)
Randy Shilts, author of And the Band Played On - Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic, a controversial book that reveals the identity of the first person to the bring AIDS to the United States. The book also raises questions about the government's response to the crisis.
On the second part of this special edition of Fresh Air addressing the AIDS epidemic, Terry Gross speaks with writer Dennis Altman, author of the new book "AIDS in the Mind of America." One of its subjects is the impact of the disease on the gay male community. The Australian Altman has previously written about the gay movement, and worked with the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California Medical School. Altman offers his thoughts on whether AIDS should be considered a "gay disease."
On this special edition of Fresh Air devoted to the AIDS Crisis, Terry Gross speaks with a 32-year-old New Jersey man who was diagnosed with the disease a year ago. Fresh Air has respected his wish to remain anonymous.