Hero nurses who helped care for AIDS patients in the 1980s featured in new documentary

(Photo: 5B)
(Photo: 5B)

The individuals who supported the patients dying of AIDS in the early days of the disease — before scientists even understood what it was — didn’t provide comfort and care for the glory. But in the new film 5B, they’re being recognized for their heroic efforts.

The documentary, which was acquired and will be released by Verizon Media (Yahoo’s parent company), sheds a light through first-person interviews on the nurses, staff, volunteers and caregivers who built Ward 5B at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) in 1983.

According to the University of San Francisco, AIDS (then still an unknown illness, it wasn’t formally named until later) was discovered in 1981 in New York and California. Within two years, 1,000 people had died, prompting San Francisco, where a large cluster of the cases were cropping up, to open the United States’s first in-patient AIDS clinic at SFGH. The special unit was the first of its kind and, to this day, remains a national model of care, shaping how AIDS patients were treated during a time of uncertainty.

“The result is an uplifting yet candid and bittersweet monument to a pivotal moment in American history and a celebration of quiet heroes worthy of renewed recognition,” the press release states of the movie.

The film, presented by RYOT (also part of Verizon Media), will hit theaters in June.

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