AIDS and Fandom

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)AIDS fic
Related tropes/genresSafe Sex and Fandom
See alsoIssuefic
Related articles on Fanlore.
ad from David Gerrold, in which he sells an unused script for Star Trek: TNG and donates the money to the "AIDS Project Los Angeles."
From the ad: 'Blood and Fire' was written for Star Trek: The Next Generation in May 1987. It's about the fear of AIDS and what it does to people. (Yes, this is the one with the two gay characters in it.) A few weeks after it was turned in, 'Blood and Fire' was shelved. No explanation was ever given why the script was set aside." According to a Trexperts published around 2008, this script was to have been filmed by a fan-run group for a show called "New Voyages"/"Phase II". The final result of the fan film can be seen on YouTube.

AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome has been used as a fanfic trope. It was especially common in the 1990s in slash fandom, and, to a lesser extent, in the predominantly het fandom Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, some fans also participated in AIDS-related fannish charity.

In many ways, the trope mirrored the growing awareness of AIDS in society. The theme was most often favored by fan writers who focused on gay activism issues.

(The Safe Sex and Fandom page includes a historical overview of how STDs (including HIV/AIDS) were covered in fanworks in various fandoms.)

Fannish charity and AIDS

In the 1990s, several conventions, such as Zebracon,[1] Revelcon, Friscon, and the 15 Yahren Reunion devoted their charity drives to various AIDS organizations like the Pediatric Aids Foundation.

Also see Blood and Fire, the 1987 Star Trek: TNG script by David Gerrold.

There have also been AIDS-focused charity zines.

AIDS in Fanworks

The subject of AIDS in fanworks has followed, to some degree, the same trajectory of opinion on the subject as in mainstream culture. Ignored, feared, misunderstood, as the subject of realistic discussion, optimism, it's all mirrored in the fiction.

One comment in 1986 from a BNF Pros writer: the lady(?) who brought up the idea of Bodie suffering AIDS - I defend to the last her right to write what she likes. I only say that if any one is mistaken enough to give me the story to read without warning me first I shall write my definitive story of "Bodie has piles" (a hazard of gay sex that up to now everyone has happily ignored), send free copies of it to everyone I know in the hatstand world and never write another word of fan fiction. I got out of K/S because I was sickened by some of the topics that were beginning to emerge in that fandom.[2]

Although AIDS is a non-canon plot development in many slash fanworks, some fandoms have characters who are canonically HIV-positive, in particular Rent and Queer As Folk.

Fanworks Featuring AIDS

several stories in Interludes #4 address the topic. In one, "The Quilt," characters visit Washington D.C. to see the AIDS Quilt Exhibit, Angi Towski is the artist.

Further Reading/Meta


  1. ^ As reported in the StrangeWorld article Science Fiction Fans and Charity, Archived version published in 1994: "One enduring relationship between a fandom and a charity is between ZebraCon and the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. ZebraCon is a convention focusing on the 1970s cop show Starsky and Hutch. Series star Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky) now enjoys a successful directing career. Because his work is now behind the camera, many people remain unaware of the personal tragedy he and his family have suffered. Due to pregnancy complications, Glaser's wife, Elizabeth, received a blood transfusion tainted with the HIV virus. She and both children were exposed to the virus. Their daughter Ariel died from AIDS; Elizabeth and her son continue to battle against this disease. Elizabeth and others who had lost children to AIDS established the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. As the Starsky and Hutch fandom became smaller, ZebraCon became a biannual convention and expanded to include other "buddy" shows such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the British spy serial The Professionals. But the original convention charity has never been forgotten. Fund-raising for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation remains a major focus not only of the convention, but of many fandom pursuits. Proceeds from a second printing of The Professionals fanzine House of Cards go to the Foundation. Items donated for auction at this past ZebraCon included Starsky and Hutch action figures, posters, books, magazines, games, and the record album recorded by David Soul (Hutch from the series). Media artist Suzanne Lovett donated a commission piece that sold for over $200."
  2. ^ from The Hatstand Express #9
  3. ^ at AO3 (2018-08-22)
  4. ^ originally posted to livejournal