Obviously this isn’t the most upbeat of topics, even though the on-camera talking heads present a wide spectrum of thoughtful, intelligent and inspiring leaders, from progressive scientists like David Ho to grass-roots activists like Noerine Kaleeba, who founded Africa’s first AIDS support organization, to UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot, and even a glamour humanitarian like Bono. But Simone and her writer/director colleagues William Cran and Greg Barker know better than to equate celebrity charm with cheap positivism. And in the end, even after four hours of viewing, I found myself unable to forget a description in the first minutes of Part I from UCSF professor of clinical medicine Molly Cooke, who said of those early casualties at San Francisco General Hospital: “Patients would die of their own dementia the way 80-year-olds do — curl up in bed and die. And these were young men.”
FRONTLINE: THE AGE OF AIDS | PBS | Tuesday, 9 p.m.