The movie Dallas Buyers Club brings attention to a little-recognized part of the AIDS activist movement: the desperate struggle to provide anything that might treat the disease when no treatment was available.
AL-721, Compound Q, Peptide T—buyers clubs formed around the country to bring in potential treatments, whether pharmaceutical or botanical, for both the virus and its effects. Many of these treatments, if not most, were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or not approved for the use for which they were taken.
Vitamins and other nutritional supplements were also sold, in many instances (if not most) at deeply discounted prices.
As shown by the smuggling in the movie, there were illegal risks taken, all in the name of saving lives. Also as shown in the movie, people with AIDS risked their lives on unproven therapies, all in the hope of surviving a disease at a time when it was killing people in large numbers.
“We wanted to live, but we were also desperate,” said longtime AIDS activist and writer Matt Sharp.