In his new book, How to Survive a Plague, David France– the creator of the Oscar-nominated seminal documentary of the same name– offers a definitive history of the battle to halt the AIDS epidemic. Joined by Dr. Mark H. Katz, a physician activist on the frontlines of the affected HIV community of Southern California, and Tony Valenzuela, a longtime community activist and writer whose work has focused on LGBT civil rights, sexual liberation, and gay men’s health, France shares powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight.
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David France is the author of Our Fathers, a book about the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, which Showtime adapted into a film. He coauthored The Confession with former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey. He is a contributing editor for New York and has written as well for The New York Times. His documentary film How to Survive a Plague was an Oscar finalist, won a Directors Guild Award and a Peabody Award, and was nominated for two Emmys, among other accolades.
Dr. Mark H. Katz has delivered care to persons with HIV for 30 years. Since 1985, he has been affiliated with Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles. From 1992-2006, he was the Regional HIV Physician Coordinator for the Southern California Kaiser region. In addition to his HIV outpatient work, he is currently a hospitalist at the West LA Medical Center and the Physician Lead at West LA for Clinician-Patient Communication, inspiring providers to be more empathic communicators. He has long been an educator as well as physician activist–through work with organizations such as LA Shanti and Being Alive (for which he conducted a monthly medical update from 1988 through 1997). He is the recipient of many honors, but his greatest professional reward, he says, is “continually having the opportunity to be involved in the care of people who face the challenge of HIV with such grace and determination.” Dr. Katz is at work on a series of essays and recollections about the HIV epidemic.
A graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program of the California Institute of the Arts, Tony Valenzuela is the Executive Director of Lambda Literary, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization advancing LGBTQ literature. He is a longtime community activist and writer whose work has focused on LGBT civil rights, HIV/AIDS and gay men’s health. He is credited with having ruptured the conventional wisdom in HIV/AIDS prevention among gay men by launching an international debate regarding sexual health beyond condom use. Out Magazine has listed him among the “Out 100.” He wrote, produced and performed his acclaimed one-man show, The (Bad) Boy Next Door, a second generation AIDS narrative which toured in a dozen cities in the U.S. He has continued to publish essays, fiction and journalism and is currently working on a memoir.