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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

Author and journalist Randy Shilts introduces the characters of And The Band Played On as "Dramatis Personae," as would appear in a script for a play. This is perhaps to suggest that the events described therein are so extraordinary and unbelievable that they befit a theater piece. The main characters in Shilts's book represent various fields, including medicine and politics. Several other characters are included for their victimization by AIDS.

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The principle characters include Dr. Donald Francis, a director for research at an AIDS laboratory for the CDC. Like the other characters, he is a real individual whose work centered on public health. Dr. Gallo is another prominent physician in the novel who works at the Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. Mary Guinan is a determined and witty epidemiologist who also works for the CDC.

Politicians include Bill Kraus, a prominent San Francisco politician and gay rights advocate (who is afflicted by AIDS at the book's end). His lover is San Francisco artist Kiko Govantes, who attends Bill at his deathbed.

AIDS victims include schoolteacher Rich Wellikoff, Ken Horne (whose case of AIDS was the first reported in San Francisco), and Dr. Joel Weisman (himself a gay physician in Los Angeles).

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