ACT UP, Fight Covid


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The HIV epidemic is nearly 40 years old. So what can we learn from that pandemic, as we approach a year of living with COVID-19?

When COVID-19 overwhelmed New York City this spring, our executive producer Karen Frillmann was reminded of life in this city in the 1980s. She reached back into the far corners of a closet in her apartment, and dug out a recording that she made decades ago. In this episode, Karen shares parts of that intimate conversation, as an act of remembrance.

Also, Kai talks with epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves, who helped start ACT UP more than 30 years ago, about how his decades of AIDS activism color his view of the fight against COVID-19. Gregg is now co-director of the Global Health Justice Project at Yale University, and writes about COVID-19 for The Nation.

Companion listening for this episode: “Rage, Grief, Joy” (June 18, 2020) and “Why Covid-19 Is Killing Black People” (April 24, 2020)

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

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