Segments in this Video

Australia's First AIDS Case (03:18)


A gardener arrives in Sydney from New York twenty-five years ago. He was diagnosed with AIDS. He carried his disease into the streets where deviants, misfits, junkies, and prostitutes engaged in risky sexual behavior and needle sharing.

AIDS and Activism (03:05)

In the '80s Sydney Australia had a particularly bad problem with drugs and drug users. The sharing of needles among drug users was rampant, giving the AIDS virus a foothold in the city.

AIDS First in the News (03:23)

The public becomes aware of AIDS and the uncontrolled spread of the disease. Doctors are shocked and baffled to discover that the virus attacks the immune system.

Beginning of AIDS Awareness (04:54)

As AIDS emerges in the U.S., the Religious Right seizes the opportunity to solidify their political power. They preach that AIDS is a punishment for homosexuality. Sex workers use condoms, but gay men in general do not.

AIDS Awareness (03:41)

Despite some falling ill, most people carry on as usual. There is no perception that the disease will kill tens of thousands of people in the next 10 years. Australia decriminalizes gay sex, and the disease rages on.

Heterosexual AIDS Victims (06:04)

Thought to be a homosexual disease, AIDS claims its first victims outside the gay community. Sensational headlines spread fear and misinformation about AIDS. Prevention of the disease requires personal responsibility.

Escalating Problems with AIDS (03:23)

When it was estimated that tens of thousands could be infected with AIDS, doctors look for people from the gay community to collaborate with them. Needle sharing spreads AIDS among IV drug users.

AIDS: Fear and Prejudice (04:38)

Needle exchange programs meet resistance. Hopes of AIDS prevention collapse as more and more people fall ill. Fear and panic accompany the disease. AIDS patients face a merciless death.

AIDS: Blame Game (04:47)

Vandalism and gay bashing become commonplace. Everyone looks for someone to blame for the AIDS carnage. Angry victims of prejudice fight back harder.

AIDS Prevention Strategies (02:41)

Gay activists agree that abstinence and use of condoms are not the answer in the high-risk community. The activists themselves could not embrace the ideas. Ad campaigns attempt to make using condoms sexy.

Sex Workers and Sage Sex (02:28)

Sex workers organized themselves early on in the AIDS saga. Sex workers use condoms almost always. They believe they are not part of the spread of the disease. A brothel guarantees safe sex, and business booms.

Public Health: Needle Exchange Program (05:27)

When government agencies refuse to approve a needle exchange program, activists start one despite the risk of jail time. Police allow it once they understand how valuable it is.

AIDS: Public Awareness (05:29)

The public would have to get behind a national strategy policy even though they already despised gays and AIDS. The press shocks the public out of its apathy. The campaign works, and thousands of cases of AIDS are prevented.

AIDS Prevention Model (02:46)

A few years after the first AIDS case is documented in Australia, incidents of AIDS begin to decline. It would be a decade from 1983 that effective treatment would arrive. Sydney's AIDS prevention model works.

Credits: Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague (00:52)

Credits: Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague

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Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague

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In 1981, the first case of AIDS was identified in the United States—and by the next year, the disease had traveled all the way to Sydney, Australia. Faced with a plague in the making, how did the Australian government clamp down on AIDS with such success? This program explains, reconstructing the radical three-pronged counterattack that united a strange coalition of bedfellows into an antivirus task force to be reckoned with. Tapping into networks of junkies, prostitutes, and sexually active gay men, Sydney’s public health initiative—as pragmatic as it was unprecedented—encouraged the use of condoms, introduced a needle exchange for drug addicts, and created the shocking Grim Reaper advertising campaign. A useful platform for discussing matters of public health, infectious diseases, and gender discrimination. Viewer discretion is advised. (57 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL42277

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.