The Devastation of the AIDS Epidemic Explored Through Fiction

World AIDS Day – Red Ribbon on the White House/flickr

There are certain cultural traumas that are so devastating that they are best explored in fiction. From the safe distance of “make-believe,” we can explore truths that feel too acute, too painful when unfiltered. This is why the best works about the Vietnam War have been feature films rather than documentaries (sorry, Ken Burns), and this is why the best way for younger generations to understand the full horror of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s is through literary accounts. Though the disease has become much more manageable in the wake of medical breakthroughs, it has forever changed our world. Here are some books that walk us through its haunting, painful profundity.