ACT UP's Zap at Astra Pharmaceuticals, Weston, Massachusetts 1989

One of my first assignments for Bay Windows was to photograph a protest or "zap" of Astra Pharmaceuticals. ACT UP is an AIDS treatment advocacy group and was protesting Astra's high price and scant clinical trial access for a drug to treat AIDS related CMV retinitis and Herpes viral infections. At that time access to drugs to treat opportunistic infections was a big issue for people with AIDS, because only AZT a partially effective drug to control the HIV virus itself was available. In AIDS patients with devastated immune systems CMV could cause blindness and eventually death, and Herpes could cause shingle-like lesions coveing the whole body, also leading to death.

Some ACT UP members blocked the entrance to Astra's parking lot and were arrested by Weston police unnecessarily wearing rubber gloves. By 1989 it was clear that HIV could not be transmitted by touching a person with AIDS, but many people were still ingnorant of the facts about the disease. Many of ACT UP's members were not even HIV+, but were gay men concerned about the glacial pace of governement and medicine in responding to the AIDS crisis.

Steven Keirstead Hac Facit MMXI, Copyright 1987-2011, Steven Keirstead Photography
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