The virus causing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome seemed alarmingly able to exploit both biological and societal weaknesses as it spread through the world population in the 1980’s. Often undetected by the agents of its rapid dissemination, the virus also exhibited an uncanny ability to capitalize on prejudice and fear as it appeared among gay males, intravenous drug users, and other individuals given low priority in the formulation of international and national health policies.
Joining such notable books as Randy Schultz’s AND THE BAND PLAYED ON and Andrew Holleran’s GROUND ZERO in a growing library of works commenting on what must be considered a twentieth century plague, MORTAL EMBRACE: LIVING WITH AIDS documents the way in which Emmanuel Dreuilhe decided to combat his own case of AIDS. Rather than succumb to blind panic (some have killed themselves without even confirming that their blood tests were in fact HIV-positive), Dreuilhe chose to fight AIDS doggedly, as a nation might fight a difficult war. Indeed, envisioning himself besieged by a crafty enemy he both despises and respects, he uses war as an all-encompassing metaphor for his situation, utilizing an elaborate system of military analogies to bolster his morale. Because his battle against AIDS occurs within the context of governmental efforts against the plague, the sluggishness of politicians to commit themselves to the cause is also incorporated into his schemata. Stylistically wracked by a battery of metaphorical and literary allusions, MORTAL EMBRACE is a missive from a global battlefield upon which the mettle of individuals and society at large continues to be tested.