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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » Victory Deferred
John-Manuel Andriote holding a copy of the updated book, Victory Deferred
Victory Deferred

Part 1 - How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America

By Brian Scott-Smith | December 01, 2011

Today is World AIDS Day, and it's thirty years this year that the first case of HIV AIDS was diagnosed in the USA, but as yet, there’s still no cure.

John-Manuel Andriote
BY & COPYRIGHT: Hilary Kline

Over thirty million people globally have died from HIV AIDS and another thirty million around the world are living with the virus. And if nothing is done to halt the march of this deadly condition, thirty million more people will become infected in the years ahead.

Startling figures and even more so when you consider that in this thirtieth year, of the first diagnosis of HIV in the USA, there is still no sight of a cure, just drugs that contain the virus and help to prolong people’s lives.

John-Manuel Andriote is a journalist and author from Norwich, Connecticut and he is living with HIV.

So what’s so special about this man among the many others?

Well he’s chronicled the march of AIDS in America and has recently relaunched his 1999 book called Victory Deferred, expanded and updated for the thirtieth anniversary of HIV AIDS and for a new twenty first century audience.

Andriote is a mild mannered, quietly spoken man. He’s been a journalist all his life and has been reporting on HIV AIDS since the eighties and he says that’s what drove him to write his book.

“I was reporting on the HIV epidemic since the late eighties while in journalism school in Northwestern University, I had developed contacts throughout the country. People in AIDS organizations, people in government agencies, people in the gay community. And I thought well, I was in a good position to write a book about how AIDS changed gay life in America, which is the subtitle of the book and to look at responses of gay communities around the United States and in Washington at the national level.”

Andriote at a Book Signing Event for Victory Deferred

But Andriote wasn’t the first to write such a book. The acclaimed San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Randy Shilts, himself a gay man, wrote And the Band Played On in 1987. Shilts chronicled the early years of HIV AIDS from the very first case back in the seventies, to the political infighting and bitterness in the gay community. The book ended with the 1985 announcement, by Hollywood legend Rock Hudson, that he was dying from AIDS.

The book became a bible and catapulted Shilts to stardom at a time when international attention of the disease exploded.

The book was subsequently adapted by HBO in to a TV docudrama in 1993 under the same name.

But sadly and rather ironically Shilts fame and fortunes were to run out in 1994 when he died from complications from HIV AIDS, the condition he had spent some of the best parts of his life reporting and writing on.

In that same year Andriote decided to take up the cause that Shilts had started, to re-chronicle the rise of HIV AIDS in America and how it had progressed. He was surprised how many people were willing to talk to him, despite the now very controversial nature of the subject.

A Red AIDS Awareness Ribbon

“I really interviewed folks from community level activists, people who had been personally affected and the line is not mutually exclusive between those two things. Most people, who became involved with AIDS organizations, became involved because they were affected personally as friends or partners of theirs were diagnosed or killed by AIDS.”

“So I interviewed people from the community level up to people in the highest levels of Federal Government. Doctor Anthony Fauci, who was the Federal Governments highest ranking AIDS scientist; The Director of the National Institute of allergies and infectious diseases. People were very willing to talk to me, either because I knew them already, having interviewed them, or I was referred to them by people they knew.”

“But they were also interested in getting their stories out there and the sort of acknowledgment of what they had been part of in recognizing both their suffering and their amazing accomplishments in responding to AIDS.”

Later today, Andriote will be attending the Frannie Peabody Center’s annual World AIDS Day reception and vigil from 5PM to 7PM, where he will give a reading from Victory Deferred, and present a talk. The event will be held at Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine and further details can be found here.

In part two of this interview John-Manuel Andriote discusses the critical and public reception of Victory Deferred.


Go to www.victorydeferred.com to find out more about the book and author, and where it can be purchased.

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