PRINT October 1989


If it bleeds, it leads.
—Media maxim

THERE IS A PARTICULAR BREED of monkey that, like other monkeys, is curious by nature; it is also, even in captivity, terrified of green snakes, an evolutionary enemy. If you put a green snake in a brown paper bag on the floor of the monkey’s cage, the monkey, irrepressibly curious, will slowly approach the bag, open it, and look in: a green snake!!! The monkey will fly to the top of the cage and cling there, terrorized. But as its panic gradually subsides its eyes will be drawn, seductively, back to the paper bag. What could be in it? Slowly the monkey descends, approaches the bag, opens it: a green snake!!! To the top of the cage again, clinging and terrorized.1

Like the monkey confronting the green snake, many of us may recoil in terror when we encounter the AIDS epidemic on the major television networks; yet we are also aware of the medium’s seductiveness and indeed experience it whenever we return to see what the brown bag contains. But should we care? Why analyze network television, an industry increasingly corporate and uniform? Patterns of AIDS coverage on the networks are at times so identical that one imagines their representatives all at the same AIDS workshop—learning how to give events the same conventional interpretations, select the same AIDS experts, use the same misleading terminology, and track down the same live footage from the people who were really there. Yet television, including the three major networks and PBS, is not monolithic. Rather, like every cultural form, it offers openings and opportunities for intervention. Further, television’s unique seductiveness and power to shape public opinion mean that in the current crisis we cannot afford to dismiss it as unsalvageably bourgeois. Rather, a brief inventory of problematic approaches to the AIDS epidemic suggests, in turn, how television could more intelligently engage, educate, and galvanize its audience.2

What kind of story? The AIDS narrative as always already written

Whereas the Los Angeles Time and the San Francisco Chronicle printed stories about a rare pneumonia among gay men within days of the Centers for Disease Control’s first official report on it, in June 1981, television network news did not cover AIDS until June 1982. Television coverage of the epidemic remains largely passive, relying on an inherited as-told-to narrative format that does not encourage careful, complex, and original reporting or analysis. The AIDS epidemic, in contrast, is unprecedentedly complex and a prototypical challenge to current social systems. Some media organizations accordingly assign a “point person” to coordinate AIDS coverage, but this remains the exception rather than the rule. Media specialists say that the AIDS epidemic has generated 22 official subissues for the mainstream media.3 These are the “pegs” reporters require to hang stories on. This fragmentation has the advantage of keeping AIDS in the news because each issue (children, blood, drugs, etc.) has its own narrative trajectory, its crises and dead periods. But if a story does not fit on one of the established pegs, it is typically doctored or dropped. Of course, what is not covered as news can be carried elsewhere: an L.A. Law (NBC) episode addressed ethical questions of euthanasia, The AIDS Connection was a viewer call-in show, and Nightline (ABC) has staged several debates over controversial AIDS issues. But individual components of the epidemic are always part of the larger story and it is this larger story that network television, addicted to simplicity and convention, never gets right. Stories begin portentously: AIDS is the plague of our times; AIDS continues its deadly spread; the third world is devastated by AIDS; AIDS: Is a cure at hand? They end predictably: Will the plague be stopped? Only time will tell; We may be closer to a cure, but it will not come in time for people like John Smith. Though often undermined or even contradicted by the story they surround, these bookends nevertheless promote an illusion of control. Even stories about controversy get packaged in this monovocal way.

One could argue that this is not bad. Physician and writer Marshall Goldberg asserts that though flawed by sensationalism, melodrama, inaccuracy, and a desire to entertain, television nonetheless succeeds in teaching the basics: AIDS is believed to be caused by a virus, the virus is not transmitted by casual contact, and so on.4 But the problem is that AIDS 101—AIDS by the book—is always an already written narrative. Although treatment experience now suggests that people with AIDS today may live many years beyond their diagnosis, perhaps indefinitely, the spring 1989 edition of The AIDS Quarterly (PBS) calls AIDS “finally fatal.” Apart from the obvious fact that life itself is finally fatal, actual footage within the report challenges this doomsday judgment in several ways: a number of experts characterize AIDS as a chronic manageable condition; people with AIDS are shown living their lives, taking considerable responsibility for treatment choices; and a group of physicians emphasizes the importance of refusing the orthodox scenario, of“not looking down the end of the film.” Yet the program’s prior declaration of inevitable doom has already been established by the opening visuals—electronic green images of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) invading white cells over a Jaws-like soundtrack; a weeping female IV drug user crying to the camera that “I’m breaking out in sores all over my body—open sores.”

By not challenging the dominant account of AIDS, television reduces subsequent contradictions to a mere errata slip tucked discreetly into the formula narrative. A 1987 Nova (PBS) program on AIDS vaccines says nothing about government inaction in testing drugs nor challenges the FDA’s single-minded focus on AZT. In 1989, Peter Jennings ends an AIDS Quarterly piece on treatment options with an upbeat comment: “So, for a change, at least all the news about AIDS is not all bad-in part because we have the financial resources in America and also because there has been enormous pressure to mobilize those resources.” The grammatical structure of Jennings’ “there has been” disguises the facts of just who has exerted the pressure and how long they have been doing it. But indeed, outstanding exceptions such as a MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour segment of May 2, 1989, entitled “AIDS: Drug Dilemma,” demonstrate that TV coverage can be bolder—and effective. Leading off the Newshour, Spencer Michaels of station KQED in San Francisco chronicled the enormous pressure gay activists have placed on the FDA, and some of the successes and failures activism has produced; the segment opened and closed with shots of the familiar “Silence= Death” button of the AIDS activist group ACT UP.

Public broadcasting: The nonalternative alternative

The above examples suggest that public broadcasting has the potential to challenge the commercial networks, but rarely does so. “PBS?” asks independent video artist John Greyson,

Don’t get me started. After nearly a decade characterized by benign neglect and not-so-benignly horrendous coverage . . . their big contribution to America’s Number 1 health priority is . . . a $2.5 million quarterly newsmagazine, that will update viewers on the “facts” (you know, like the New York Times does every day), and interview “experts” like Dr. Mathilde Krim (you know, who appears on the news every week), a feature profile of AIDS “heroes” (you know, like Ryan White). In other words, over $12,000 a minute to replicate what the commercial networks do so offensively already as a matter of course . . . This from the same network that has a Congressional mandate to buy substantial amounts of independent work, but has so far aired only one of the over I 00 independent works produced on AIDS to date.5

Public television’s role in The AIDS Quarterly, to which Greyson refers, could be to provide critical and interpretive commentary on the prevailing stereotypes of the commercial networks; instead it reiterates professional wisdom, merely performing such tasks as translating scientific language into baby talk and generally reproducing the most conventional views about the function and role of “art.” Douglas Crimp writes that “AIDS and the Arts,” a July 1987 MacNeil/ Lehrer feature, reinforces the stereotypical equation of AIDS with homosexuality, suggests that gay people have a natural inclination toward the arts, and "implies that some gay people ’redeem’ themselves by being artists, and therefore that the deaths of other gay people are less tragic.”6 Yet simultaneously, in omitting mention of the wide range of artistic responses—these include Greyson’s own The ADS Epidemic, 1987, as well as Mark Huestis’ and Wendy Dallas’ 1986 Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age, Isaac Julien’s 1987 This Is Not an AIDS Advertisement, Barbara Hammer’s 1987 Snow Job, Stashu Kybartas’ Danny, 1987, and Tom Kalin’s They are lost to vision altogether, 1988—PBS deprives its viewing audience of some of the most exciting video work being produced today.7

What’s Wrong with this Picture?: Television and Representation

Network television consistently doles out orthodox blocks of AIDS-related content like a series of bricks:

AIDS is caused by HIV, or “the AIDS virus”
AIDS is spread by those infected with HIV, or AIDS “carriers”
Those infected with HIV will develop AIDS
Those with AIDS (or “AIDS victims”) will die
AIDS is a gay disease
AIDS is everybody’s problem
Fear of AIDS is worse than AIDS itself
Science is conquering AIDS
Conquering AIDS may be impossible
The face of AIDS is changing
The general population is still safe

From such bricks is network AIDS built; and with bricks so old, no wonder the building’s crumbling. Instead of such stereotypes, television could be providing state-of-the-art bricks; better yet, it could provide knowledge and analysis about the construction process. It is nonsense to think such knowledge is too complicated for television audiences or too hard to communicate visually. Colman Jones’ 1987–88 radio programs on AIDS for the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Ideas series, for example, explored sophisticated notions like the social construction of reality, representational icons, and discursive strategies that disguise homophobia. These analyses of the construction of knowledge were not beyond the grasp of the average U.S. listener; nor are such independent documentaries on the representation of AIDS as Jean Carlomusto’s and Maria Maggenti’s Doctors, Liars, and Women: AIDS Activists Say No to Cosmo, 1988, and the Testing the Limits Collective’s Testing the Limits, Parts 1 and 2, 1987 and 1989, produced in New York by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. In All of us and AIDS, 1987, an educational video produced by Catherine V. Jordan, high school students make a video about AIDS; the film-within-a-film device effectively raises questions about representation. In contrast, the networks appear to believe that the real world, simple and accessible, is out there waiting for prime time; processes and decisions about representation—what Brazilian writer Herbert Daniel calls the staging of the epidemic—are ignored. This is unfortunate because television’s analysis of representation might graphically demonstrate and deconstruct its own recurrent conventions in representing persons with AIDS: the emaciated gay man in a hospital bed, the “innocent” transfusion victim surrounded by loving family, the third world prostitute, always wearing red. That counterexamples to the “canonical AIDS victim” are systematically excluded we know from the reports of people with AIDS who are rejected by photographers because they do not look sick enough. Such an analysis could examine how disjunctions between text and image affect AIDS stories: Mervyn Silverman arguing on Nightline in the early 1980s that AIDS was not “caused” by gay men while, not visible to him, the television audience saw shots of gay men kissing; more recently, a report that, in contradiction to all existing scientific evidence, mosquitoes transmit AIDS was accompanied by footage of virologist Robert Gallo lecturing on a completely different subject.

It is not that network television is incapable of illustrating its own representational processes. Even in such highly charged contexts as the presidential campaigns, television has been willing to devote time to the way candidates are packaged for the mass media. Perhaps this coverage is neither so complex nor so politically incisive as we might wish, but it shows clearly that the networks grasp the concept of representation, have indeed put it to work in representing their own operations, and believe that viewers will get the point.

An individual’s human-interest story can capture viewers and challenge stereotypes about the epidemic. TV often docs this well. More difficult is to link these individual stories to the collective social crisis and show accurately the complexity and contradictions of individual and social identity. An Early Frost, the first feature-length drama about AIDS on network television, airing on NBC in November 1985, features an appealing yuppie attorney with an attractive gay lover; but when the attorney finds out he has AIDS (possibly infected by his lover, who turns out to have had occasional “promiscuous” episodes), he returns to the bosom of his nuclear family to die, with limited signs of the gay community or its support. An Early Frost demonstrates television’s tendency to dissolve the gayness of the gay person with AIDS into a homogenized and universalized person facing death. Without denying that this universalizing process may sometimes be valuable, I would suggest that it enables television both to dramatize death and to escape a fate worse than death: showing gay people being gay. TV Guide’s story on lead actor Aidan Quinn was titled “Why This Young Hunk Risked Playing an AIDS Victim.” The story spells out what the “risk” is: "Back in Chicago, Quinn’s home town, acquaintances couldn’t understand why their gruff friend wanted to play someone so. . . unmanly, an outcast with such a vile disease. ’You gotta be courageous to play a fag, Aidan,’ one told him.”8

In retrospect, despite its unsatisfactory emphasis and resolution, An Early Frost comes to seem downright benign compared with the March 1986 Frontline (PBS) program AIDS: A Public Inquiry, which includes, as a kind of film-within-a-film, the crashingly homophobic Fabian’s Story, or the infamous December 1988 episode of Midnight Caller on NBC. Both programs present gay men as dangerous “AIDS carriers,” pathological and sadistic “Patient Zero” figures who continue to have unsafe sex even after they are diagnosed and warned. Both the documentary and the drama kill off their villains before the end. And neither clearly distinguishes HIV infection from the multiple clinical conditions that warrant a diagnosis of AIDS.9

Television could provide a great service by finding ways to convey the relationship between self-identified identity, perceived identity, fantasy and desire, and actual behavior—as well as between one’s identity in acquiring HIV infection, transmitting it, and experiencing its consequences. Interestingly, television soap opera, which thrives on the paradoxes and complications of identity, has easily incorporated the AIDS epidemic into ongoing narratives. The 1987 video Ojos Que No Ven (Eyes that fail to see), produced primarily for Spanish-speaking communities, though now also available in English, uses the popular telenovela format to weave together several different themes about AIDS and to embed them in the story of an extended Latino family. Such a clarification of identity would be especially useful for women, for at present, despite thousands of cases of AIDS and HIV infection, they remain largely invisible in terms of the epidemic. Even given educational efforts, many women continue to believe they are not at risk; nor are most AIDS agencies set up to provide treatment or social services for women. Further, many women, “at risk” or not, are still unaware that the epidemic indirectly threatens all women’s rights (routine testing of all pregnant women already occurs at some sites)—a threat spelled out clearly in Pratibha Parmar’s 1987 Reframing AIDS. Finally, a different kind of media coverage could show people speaking for themselves, thus acknowledging political, sexual, cultural, social, ethnic, gender, and class identities as something more than “special interests.”

Safe Sex, Safe Texts, and the Market

Although many individual TV stations readily accepted ads and public-service announcements on both birth control and AIDS, the commercial networks initially refused on the grounds that to accept them would violate their First Amendment rights of free speech. Their refusal exemplified what Greyson calls “the ADS epidemic”: acquired dread of sex, which you can get from worrying about AIDS or watching too much television. The ADS epidemic encompasses a formidable array of phobias, including homophobia, erotophobia, fear of the exotic and unknown, fear of death, and fear of a conservative backlash. The networks’ uncharacteristic prudery reflects their stance that a political position is a bad thing and that something called “neutrality” can actually be achieved. An irony of this scandalous prudishness is that the networks spend vast sums developing ways to commodify people, products, events, and phenomena for the viewing public. To an industry equipped for the market, condoms should not have presented a major challenge. Individual television journalists in part created their own reporting problems. The first network story on AIDS, by NBC in June 1982, took the line that “homosexual lifestyles” had triggered an epidemic. This angle on AIDS lasted, presenting reporters with the ongoing problems of covering a group—the gay community—not usually covered on the nightly news, finding suitable language to communicate the facts of transmission and prevention, and educating viewers about the epidemic and their own potential risk without causing panic. Television coverage accordingly evolved a kind of visual and verbal shorthand that allow “the facts” to be telegraphed: two men together in an urban setting—in shops or among crowds; phrases like “the exchange of bodily fluids,” “homosexual acts,” “safe sex.” When cases turned up among children, reporters at first thought AIDS could now be covered more easily, but violating taboos turned out to be inevitable. Sander L. Gilman, for example, points to a photo caption in the Ithaca Journal (May 1, 1986) that described youngster Ryan White (who became the subject of a made-for-TV movie when he was barred from attending his school in Indiana) at an AIDS benefit performance of Cats in New York as “a homophiliac who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion.” Of this linguistic conflation of homosexual and hemophiliac, Gilman writes, “The media wishes to maintain society’s image of the pure, dying child. But such an iconographic device is rarely sufficient to overcome the stigma of AIDS.”10 And the dreaded phrase ”anal intercourse“ was finally uttered (on PBS) only after the way had been paved by detailed broadcasts about Ronald Reagan’s colon surgery.11 The third problem—to convey information without causing panic—is handled through messages that mix fear with reassurance. Thus ever popular ”spread-ofAIDS“ stories are quick to reassure viewers that the epidemic’s spread remains confined to isolated groups and locales: newly identified people with AIDS, in other words, are efficiently relegated to the (still) growing category of contaminated Other while the presumed category of the viewer, the ”general population," though (still) shrinking, remains pristine and pure.

By the time network television finally broke down and told viewers to “use a condom” this once explicit piece of advice had become a euphemism, a symbolic stand-in for the difficulty of talking frankly about AIDS and sex, a piece of technical information to be moved from group to group, culture to culture, as though isolated from the social, political, economic, cultural, and moral understandings and commitments of those to whom the advice was given.12

Spectacles of AIDS, Regimes of Truth

Michel Foucault uses the term regime of truth to describe the circular relation between truth, the systems of power that produce and sustain it, and the effects of power it induces and that it in turn reconfigures. Truth, in this sense, is already power: we can forget the fight for or against a particular truth and instead interrogate the rules at work in a society that distinguish “true” representations from “false” ones. Media accounts of AIDS conform to such regimes; they come to seem familiar, true, because they simultaneously reinforce prior representations and prepare us for similar representations to come. Media research often contributes to these regimes, for example by studying media coverage of the epidemic without examining any gay or alternative media. These studies often plot the quantity of media coverage in relationship to some “real world” variable like number of AIDS cases or scientific findings. That Rock Hudson’s illness and death provoked the most dramatic increase in coverage is then deplored, as though it revealed a deep moral weakness in the American psyche. But the Hudson case is more than simply the first major case of Celebrity AIDS: it provides significant evidence that the media and “the masses” alike will pay attention if something interests them.

Perhaps the most repellent aspect of network television’s haphazard, reactive response to the AIDS epidemic involves its direct appeals to the market. “The public is sick of AIDS,” says the director of research at one of the major networks, “it’s lost its market value”; if we think we can overcome that reality, “we exaggerate our own importance.” This newfound humility camouflages a fair degree of cultural and institutional imperialism. Perhaps caught in the production and reproduction of overdetermined images, network spokespersons should just come out and say “We’re sick of AIDS.” Further, the statement “the public is sick of AIDS” depends upon the us/ them dichotomy by now virtually universal in the social construction of the AIDS epidemic. The public, of course, is our old friend the general population, here constructed as a media market assumed to be heterosexual and to be (or to want to be )white and middle-class. The networks can aggressively examine how to present televisually the complex aspects of this epidemic—seeking advice from more creative videomakers than themselves—instead of phoning their reflexive requests to the nearest AIDS service organization: “Can you get me a black prostitute with two kids who shoots drugs and is still on the street spreading AIDS?”


In Bob Huffs 1988 independent video Rockville Is Burning, AIDS activists take over a television station and begin broadcasting a radically different version of the epidemic. In fact, the mass media are capable of integrating more experimental and electrifying coverage, as demonstrated by CNN’s live China coverage, C-Span’s live coverage of various AIDS events, and by the popularity of alternative and resistant films and videos at the Fifth International AIDS Conference in Montreal.13 Rather than accepting hopeless judgments from research and marketing departments that “AIDS is a dead issue” or “we can’t say condom on television,” network executives and individual reporters can look at what excites people, what they watch, what they enjoy. They can communicate, over and over, the simple and undisputed messages about AIDS that are still widely misunderstood: HIV infection and AIDS are different, you can’t get HIV infection or AIDS from giving blood, and so on. Will we find any of these alternatives in the brown paper bag the next time it seduces us?

Paula A. Treichler teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the College of Medicine, Institute of Communications Research and Women’s Studies. She is the co-author of Language, Gender, and Professional Writing, 1989.

An earlier version of this essay was presented on 7 June 1989 at SIDART, a symposium on art and culture in the AIDS epidemic, held in conjunction with the Fifth International Conference on AIDS, Montreal, 4–9 June 1989.



1. The green snake phenomenon was described to me by Leland C. Clark, Jr., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of neurophysiology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

2. Selected readings on television (and media) coverage of the AIDS epidemic include Keith Alcorn. “AIDS in the Public Sphere: How a Broadcasting System in Crisis Dealt with an Epidemic,” in Taking Liberties: AIDS and Cultural Politics, ed. Erica Carter and Simon Watney, London: Serpent’s Tail, 1989, pp. 193–212; Dennis Allman, AIDS in the Mind of America, Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor/ Double day, 1986; Douglas Crimp, “AIDS Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism,” October no . 43, Winter 1987 (this issue of October is reprinted as AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, ed. Crimp, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988); Crimp, “Portraits of People with AIDS,” presented at the conference “Representing AIDS,” London, Ontario, 11–13 November 1988; Jan Zita Grover, “Visible Lesions,” Afterimage no. I, Summer 1989, pp. 10–16; Timothy Landers, “Bodies and AntiBodies: A Crisis in Representation,” The Independent no. 1, January–February 1988, pp. 18–24; Randy Shills, And the Band Played On: People, Politics, and the AIDS Epidemic, New York: St. Martin’s, 1987; John Tagg, The Burden of Representation, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988; Paula A. Treichler, “AIDS, Gender, and Biomedical Discourse: Current Contests for Meaning,” in AIDS: The Burdens of History, ed. Elizabeth Fee and Daniel M. Fox, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988; Treichler, “AIDS, Homophobia, and Biomedical Discourse: An Epidemic of Signification” in AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism; and Simon Watney, Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and the Media, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. See also Todd Gitlin, ed., Watching Television, New York: Pantheon, 1986. Several papers on television were presented at “AIDS: Communication Challenges,” a daylong conference held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, 27 May 1989, including David C. Colby, “Mass Mediated Epidemic: AIDS and Television News 1981–87”; Pat Christen, “The Impact of Television on the Development of AIDS Public Policy and Funding”; David Perlman, “The Print Media’s Response to AIDS”; Everett M. Rogers, “Diffusion of AIDS In format ion through the Electronic Media”; and Horst Stipp, “An Analysis of Trends in NBC’s Coverage of AIDS.”

3. James W Dearing and Everett M. Rogers, “The Agenda Setting Process for the Issue of AIDS.” Presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New Orleans, 28 May–2 June 1988.

4 Marshall Goldberg, “TV Has Done More to Contain AIDS than Any Other Single Faclor,” TV Guide 35 no. 48.28 November 1987, pp. 4–7.

5. John Greyson, The ADS Epidemic, videotape, 1987, and “Proofing,” in Jan Zit a Grover, _ed., AIDS: The Artists’ Response, Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1989, pp. 22–25. (The single independent feature aired by PBS was The A.I.D.S. Show, Peter Adair and Robert Epstein, 1986.)

6. Crimp, AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, p. 4

7. Many of the alternative films and videos I refer to in this essay arc now compiled on Video Against AIDS, a set of three tapes curated by John Greyson and Bill Horrigan, produced by Kate Horsfield, and available from the Video Data Bank in Chicago and New York and from V Tape in Toronto. Likewise, many are described more fully in Jan Zita Grover, ed., AIDS: The Artists’ Response, available from the Hoyt L. Sherman Gallery at Ohio State University.

8. Michael Leahy, “Why This Young Hunk Risked Playing an AIDS Victim,” TV Guide 34 no. 17.26 April 1986. pp. 34–38.

9. Fabian’s Story, widely criticized as unethical, nonrepresentative, and exploitive, shows a black male prostitute who continues to have unsafe sex even after his diagnosis; Martha Gever, in “Pictures of Sickness: Stuart Marshall’s Bright Eyes” (in AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism), notes in contrast that a positive film about a man with AIDS, Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age, 1986, by Mark Huest is and Wendy Dallas, was turned down by PBS (though shown by Channel Four in Britain). The figure of ”Patient Zero," a Canadian flight attendantrepresented as a kind of Typhoid Mary character by Randy Shilts in And the Band Played On, is discussed by Crimp in AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism.

10. Sander L. Gilman, “AIDS and Syphilis: The Iconography of Disease,” in AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism.

11. And, as Michael Callen writes in “ Media Watch (And It’s Still Ticking),” in AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, “One distressing presumption that runs through this asshole coverage is that anal intercourse and male homosexuality are synonymous. When will someone point out that heterosexuals can and do engage in anal intercourse?” (p. 150).

12. As Brooke Groundfest Schoepf and her colleagues in Project CONAISSIDA point out, discussing their experiences working with women in Zaire, condoms present many cultural difficulties for women in the context of their countries’ deepening poverty; for many women, only the provision of new income-generating activities would provide real alternatives to multiple-partner sex. See Schoepf, Rukarangira wa Nkara, Claude Schoepf, Walu Engundu, and Payanzo Nt somo, “AIDS and Society in Central Africa: A View from Zaire,” in AIDS In Africa: The Social and Policy Impact, ed. Norman Miller and Richard C. Rockwell, LcwiSion, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1988. p. 218.

13. Screenings of activists’ and artists’ videos at the Montreal conference consistently played to overflow crowds; since the conference, with virtually no additional publicity, orders for Video Against AIDS (see note 7) have poured into Video Data Bank and V Tape, primarily from community health organizations and health educators—precisely the viewers conventionally believed to require “straight” materials.