In a space of a week, we are treated to not only one but two DVD releases of documentaries about AIDS-crisis because there’s nothing else better in 2014 so far than to remind ourselves of humanity’s ongoing struggle with the sex-related epidemic. First we have Fire in the Blood, a globe-spanning treatise on the Western world’s pharmaceutical corporations sanctioned by governments and how they blocked many third-world countries from access to affordable AIDS drugs, and then How To Survive a Plague, which is a rousing, galvanising account of activism during the 1980’s HIV pandemic, exposing the gross negligence of the White House. The latter is a far superior piece, drawing power through archival footage rather than talking heads and reconstruction, thus intensifying authenticity, whilst the former vacillates between the compelling and the banal, and never really finding the momentum its central thrust deserves to pound to its audience. Despite its powerful content, Fire in the Blood stumbles in form, often artlessly putting through information through a conveyor belt-like strategy. It’s also occasionally repetitive in its declarations, failing to channel its anger through personal constructions.
Dylan Mohan Gray’s ferociously resolute thesis is that the huge Goliath-like pharmaceutical companies that dominate America and Europe are hellbent on lobbying against the provision of low-cost antiretroviral drugs that are made available in both continents of Africa and Asia, just because the Eastern and Southern continents have sourced far cheaper drugs from manufacturers in Thailand and India. This meant bad news for the pharma giants – so with the coalition of governments in America, European Union and Switzerland all pulling strings within the World Trade Organisation (WTO), barring these third-world countries to produce such medicines. The sole reason? Drug patenting. This documentary brilliantly contextualises the major problem gripping the rest of the world of the AIDS solution. It’s bad enough for somebody who lives in, say, Boston to pay a mint to get treatment, let alone an HIV-positive mother of three in Somalia who barely earn enough to put food on the table. Millions have died from AIDS, and its counting, and this situation is practically business-induced genocide. This is the world we live in and despite all our technological advances, we are still truly stuck with monopolistic structures sucking dry the less-affluent continents for the benefit of the greedy and power-hungry cunts that rule the Western world.
Fire in the Blood DVD is released on 24 March.