One Boy at War

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Paul Sergios graduated from USC film school in 1981 he had every reason to envision a long and prosperous Hollywood career: bright, attractive, imaginative, ambitious, he seemed to be a young gay man bursting with promise and on the fast track to success. Within a year, however, he recognized in himself the ominous signs of HIV infection, and the course of his life was irreversibly altered. The story he tells in ONE BOY AT WAR, taken largely from journals he began keeping when he entered the first AZT trial at UCLA in 1982, traces his participation in official AIDS drug studies and his increasing involvement in unofficial, underground studies of experimental drugs over the next ten years.

It is a dramatic story. Impatient with the slow pace of sanctioned research and distrusting the protocols of traditional science, HIV-infected individuals began to take their treatment into their own hands. By 1984 there emerged a loosely connected network of bedroom chemists, independent computer researchers, drug brokers, and newsletter publicists intent on identifying any promising developments in AIDS drugs and making that information available to other infected individuals. By 1987, this network had become a sophisticated organization of synthesizers and distributors, providing both information and actual treatment, successfully challenging the FDA’s conventional approval procedures. Underground spokesmen found paternalistic, morally unacceptable, and...

(The entire section is 478 words.)