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A film set in the 1980s about a group of epidemiologists investigating the spread of AIDS. It explores the multitude of topics that the spread of AIDS brought to the fore: most notably, the gay community and homophobia. It is something of a Tear Jerker. Based on a book of the same name written by Randy Shilts, a reporter for the San Fransisco Chronicle.
- Adam Westing - Alan Alda as a jerk doctor.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous - The airline steward. Almost borders on Depraved Homosexual.
- Arc Words - "What do we know, What do we suspect, What can we prove?"
- "Gay Cancer"
- Armor-Piercing Question - "How many dead hemophiliacs do you need?"
- Brainy Brunette - Both Selma Dritz and Mary Guinan
- But You Screw One Goat! - AIDS was first transmitted to humans from apes.
- Actually, the common belief is that the cross-species transmission occurred when a bushmeat hunter or vendor cut himself and blood-to-blood contact happened that way.
- The Chick - Mary Guinan
- Club Kid - Or more accurately, bathhouse kid
- Eureka Moment - Francis gets a new idea about how the disease works... by watching a game of Pac-Man.
- Even the Guys Want Him - The steward, naturally
- Fag Hag - Selma Dritz
- Film of the Book - Non-fiction book by San Francisco Chronicle journalist Randy Shilts.
- Ho Yay
- Ignored Expert - All of the scientists
- Jerkass - Bob Gallo.
- The Medic - All of the scientists, as well
- Obstructive Bureaucrat - Homophobic as well
- Only in It For the Money - The bathhouse owner
- The Plague - AIDS
- Precision F-Strike - Selma Dritz:
Let's cut the crap.
- Really Gets Around - The steward
- Science Is Bad - Inverted. The scientists are portrayed the most sympathetically of anyone
- Shirtless Scene - The steward
- Smoking Is Cool - Also the steward
- Straight Gay
- Truth in Television - A tragic Real Life example. From the CDC being underfunded to the bitter rivalry between Dr. Gallo and the Pasteur Institute. The whole thing is just Harsher in Hindsight - The Movie.
- Yaoi Fangirl - Selma Dritz