Randy Shilts was the first openly gay journalist dealing with gay issues for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1981, the year when AIDS came to international attention, he quickly devoted himself to reporting on the developing epidemic, one which devastated his community and eventually took his life as well. Shilts interviewed over 1000 people, weaving together extensive research in the form of personal stories and political reportage. He was perfectly placed to understand the cultural, medical, and political impact of the disease on the gay community and United States society as a whole. 'And the Band Played On' exposes why AIDS was allowed to spread while the medical and political authorities ignored and even denied the threat.