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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 174

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic is a nonfiction book by journalist Randy Shilts. The book was published in 1987, at the beginning of the mainstream coverage of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

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Themes in the book are varied, but mostly focus on the history of the AIDS epidemic itself. Shilts, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive, chronicled the emergence of AIDS and its devastating effects on the LGBT and African American communities in particular.

Another theme featured in the book is the indifference of politicians during the initial epidemic crisis, which Shilts argues was one of catalysts of the virus' spread. Shilts devoted large sections of the book on the volatile relationship between the government and the communities affected by the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s.

Shilts also discussed homophobia, and how it contributed to the slow response and prevention of the epidemic. AIDS was falsely perceived as a "gay" disease (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, or GRID), or which only affected those who used injectable drugs such as heroin.


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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 144

And the Band Played On is a work of investigative journalism that traces the rise and spread of HIV and AIDs, with a special emphasis on how the US government and US police force allowed the disease to spread during its initial phases. Rather than having been caused by these factors, the author asserts that its spread was allowed in part due to indifference, a consequent lack of resources, and unhelpful politics in the police force. As such, the author examines the individual experiences of a number of characters who contracted the disease during its early stages. Therefore, the themes that could be said to exist within this book of journalism are as follows: the homosexual experience in modern day America, unfairness caused by the police force in America, a lack of government surveillance and intrusion, and the hopelessness caused by the HIV virus.

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