Surviving Plagues and Recalling Heroes



Much of this story is about friendship, solidarity, and the way they sustain social movements. Before his death, Michel Foucault suggested that social movements serve as experiments in approaches to living. His writings on power informed the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), reminding members of the group to honor their own voices, needs, desires, and shared practices (Foucault, 2012; Halperin, 1997; Roach, 2012). Activists established new forms of engagement with drug users and gay men, which recognized that asking them to stop having sex or using drugs was futile. A more realistic approach involved ways to reduce harm whiie acknowledging human needs. The result was the harm reduction movement born of a generation of activists hoping to reduce the harms of HIV/ AIDS and prohibitive politics alike. This movement outlined new philosophies of sexuality and health, bridging activist practices and thinking about queer theory and harm reduction, eros, thanatos, and the prevention of illness, while engaging risk. Like all AIDS activism, it was complicated work. And some members did not last (Shepard, 2013).


Harm Reduction Compassion Fatigue Syringe Exchange Queer Theory Syringe Exchange Program 
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© Benjamin Shepard 2015

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