Now that beach season is finally upon us, it’s time for another installment of the We ❤ Health Literacy Book Club. For this one we’re branching out a bit — the book isn’t so much about health literacy as it is about public health in general, but we ❤ it and we bet you will, too.
Randy Shilts’ award-winning And the Band Played On achieves something that not many public health books do — it’s a total page-turner! Originally published in 1987, it tells the story of the first 5 years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. And it really is a story — the book is an almost-daily account of the key players living through the early days of the epidemic.
Stilts’ work is deeply rooted in his criticism of the initial reaction to the AIDS crisis — he condemns the medical world, the scientific community, and most particularly the Reagan administration for a flawed response that cost an unspeakable number of lives.
It’s a moving story that also serves as a reminder to do our homework. The issues we communicate to consumer audiences may have complex, emotional, and nuanced stories behind them — and we’ll be better at our jobs if we’re familiar with their implications.
The bottom line: Get the whole story of the early days of AIDS from Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On.