The Lazarus Lotteries will follow long-term survivor Malcom Gregory Scott on his quest to meet other people with AIDS who, like him, were rescued from their death beds in a rarely told episode in the history of AIDS.
Diagnosed in 1987, while being discharged from the Navy for being queer, Scott was in the terminal stages of advanced AIDS eight years later when, for the first time, drugs undergoing FDA trials were showing real promise in fighting the disease.
The new class of drugs, protease inhibitors, in combination with existing drugs, was proving so safe and effective that the FDA expanded the trials, giving access to more people with HIV disease — but only to those still healthy enough to qualify for the trials.
Activists, recognizing that the tens of thousands who most urgently needed the new drugs would be precluded, pressured the FDA and two of the drug makers to hold computer-randomized drawings to distribute the limited supply that manufacturers said could be spared from the FDA approval process. Activists and journalists dubbed the drawings “compassionate access lotteries.”
Of the many who needed the drugs, fewer than four thousand would be chosen.
Queer independent filmmaker Carly McCarthy has dedicated herself to this quest as well, to document these dramatic stories of struggle and perseverance. With the support of your gift to this endeavor, she can travel with Scott to meet them, and give the unsung heroes of the 1995 compassionate access lotteries, or those who remember them, a platform for telling the stories of their own part in this little known history.
Finding those whose lives were saved by the 1995 lotteries won’t be easy. In addition to funding early production costs, your donation will help defray the costs of a broad-ranging outreach campaign beginning during June 2021 Pride celebrations. Through social media, paid advertisements, and editorial coverage of their efforts, McCarthy and Scott hope their call will be heard, not only by the survivors and their loved ones, but also by the activists, the care providers, the federal administrators, and the drug company employees who played their own critical roles in this story.
With your gift, you too can play a critical role in this extraordinary story, by supporting the filmmakers' efforts to document this important and vanishing history.
Visit www.lazaruslotteries.com for more information or to contact us directly.