5B: A Timely Reminder That Not All Heroes Wear Capes

5B Documents Compassion During Crisis

Staff on 5B ward Through first-person interviews with doctors, nurses, caregivers, survivors (and family members many left behind) and archival news footage, 5B follows the evolution of medical standards of practice for the care and treatment of AIDS patients by members of the medical community.

San Francisco General Hospital opened ward 5B to provide focused care for AIDS patients with compassion and dignity. This ward advocated and implemented a holistic model of care that changed the perception of how to treat AIDS patients but not without its detractors. But this ward and its staff deeply impacted and changed the perception of working with AIDS patients internationally.

Real Faces Frame The Struggle

It’s 2019 and in many respects, we’re living at the height of throw-away culture. The news cycle for major topics is often barely twenty-four hours, trending topics exert massive control over what issues receive widespread attention, and recent history gets rewritten depending on who controls the narrative. It’s extremely easy to throw away uncomfortable parts of our past. 5B puts the homophobia that drove public policy front and center.

5B is an unvarnished look at how those infected with AIDS at the height of the epidemic faced an uphill battle on all fronts. The interpersonal relationships between the staff members caring for patients isn’t the usual storytelling angle for discussing AIDS. But listening to these men and women not only discuss the discrimination and political threat but naming the men and women suffering and dying of the disease will leave audiences unequivocally moved.

A Reminder of Stigma and Risk

5B documents the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and the fearmongering that controlling in mainstream news coverage. When it comes to medical care and contagious diseases, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is one area with a constantly evolving narrative. It can’t be stressed enough how disconnecting modern perceptions of this condition from its history and roots can lead to a resurgence of misinformation and stigmatization of those living (and dying) from the disease.

5B is an eye-opening reminder of exactly what remains at stake medically, personally, and politically, when it comes to remembering we all have a duty care.

Rating: B+

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