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Saturday, March 01, 2014

How Real Is "Dallas Buyers Club"?


"Dallas Buyers Club" is likely to earn a couple of Oscars tomorrow night for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. It is the story of Ron Woodruff, a homophobic rodeo cowboy who, in the mid-1980s, contracted HIV. When the medical community told him he only had 30 days to live and couldn't offer him any hope because of FDA restrictions on unapproved pharmaceuticals, he smuggled them in from Mexico for himself and for others with the disease.

The movie -- and the performances -- are terrific, but for some perspective on its accuracy, I turned to Dr. Michael Saag, one of the nation's leading AIDS researchers and founder of a comprehensive HIV treatment center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Saag confirmed many of the plot points in the movie, and shared some real-life stories he has compiled on the subject for a book he'll publish next month, "Positive: One Doctor's Personal Encounters with Death, Life, and the US Healthcare System."

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