The first major film, either televised or theatrical, to deal with the AIDS epidemic, Frost stars Aidan Quinn as a gay man who returns home to break the news to his family that he is HIV-positive. It was watched by over 34 million people, garnered 14 Emmy nominations and won 3.
Parting Glances (1986)
In Steve Buscemi’s first major film role, he plays an HIV-positive gay man. The director, Bill Sherwood, died of an AIDS-related illness in 1990 without completing another film.
Tongues Untied (1989)
This documentary explores black gay culture in the '80s, including the loss of many to AIDS.
Longtime Companion (1989)
Longtime Companion was the first wide-release theatrical film to tackle HIV/AIDS. The title is taken from the words used by the New York Times's description of the partner of someone who had died from an AIDS-related illness.
The Living End (1992)
Two HIV-positive men run from the law in classic Thelma & Louise-style.
Zero Patience (1993)
This indie musical finds a 19th century English explorer meeting the first AIDS patient.
And the Band Played On (1993)
Ian McKellen and Lily Tomlin star in this film about the discovery of the virus.
Tom Hanks plays a wronged lawyer, fired after it's revealed that he has HIV.
The Cure (1995)
A boy finds out his best friend has AIDS and plans a trip to New Orleans to find the cure.
A young gay man in New York believes he'll be safe from contracting HIV/AIDS if he stays celibate. But things get complicated when he falls for an HIV-positive man.
Chloë Sevigny plays a teenage girl who wants to save other young women from the boy who gave her HIV.
Boys On the Side (1995)
Mary-Louise Parker plays a woman with AIDS who embarks on a road trip with a recently single lesbian (Whoopi Goldberg) and a young woman escaping an abusive relationship (Drew Barrymore).
It's My Party (1996)
Eric Roberts plays a man dying from AIDS who throws a party before he plans to kill himself. One of the first films to address the topic of someone living with AIDS and dying on their own terms, the film was based on the life of Harry Stein, director Randal Kleiser’s ex-lover.
The Hours (2002)
The film connects three women of different generations through Virginia Woolf, one of which (Meryl Streep) is planning an award party for her best friend who has AIDS.
The Trip (2002)
This film follows the love story of a young conservative and a gay rights activist, concluding when one of them contracts HIV in the '80s and the other tries to get him home from Mexico.
Angels in America (2003)
This HBO mini-series is based on Tony Kushner's award-winning play about the start of the AIDS epidemic in New York City.
It's one of the most iconic musicals of our time and a beautiful portrait of friendship and community, set against the AIDS-ridden East Village at the turn of the millenium.
Life Support (2007)
Queen Latifah plays a woman with HIV who is overcoming her drug addiction and working with an AIDS outreach group.
The Witnesses (2007)
A doctor begins an affair with a young man who soon finds out he has AIDS.
A young woman with HIV strives for an education and a way out from her mother's abuse.
How to Survive a Plague (2012)
This documentary follows the AIDS outbreak and the uprising of queer protesters.
In this heartbreaking true story, an Irish woman goes searching for her son whom she was forced to give up for adoption as a baby, only to find he's involved in the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
After a Texas man finds out he has AIDS, he refuses to die without any resources and smuggles life-saving drugs from Mexico.
The Normal Heart (2014)
Larry Kramer's powerful work comes to life in the HBO film about early HIV/AIDS fighters in New York City.
The Companion (2015)
A boxer in 1980s Cuba is assigned to be the a companion for an HIV-positive war veteran confined by the government to a sanatorium.
Holding the Man (2015)
This true love story follows a couple from when they first met in high school to when one dies from AIDS and the other struggles to write their story before losing his mind to the disease.
120 BPM (2017)
This story set in 1990s Paris tells the story of the intimate relationship between Sean and Nathan, two members of ACT UP Paris, set against the backdrop of the group’s fight to secure medication for people living with HIV.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Though the film infamously fudged the details around Freddie Mercury's HIV diagnosis, and its method of storytelling ultimately shamed him, his sexuality, and his HIV status, it nevertheless is one of the few biopics that centers a person of color living with HIV.
Paris 05:59 Theo & Hugo (2017)
Two young gay men meet at a sex club in the first 20 minutes of Paris 05:59, which is an extremely explicit French film about a one-night stand. One of the two is HIV positive and their encounter leads them both to go to the hospital to pick up post-exposure prophylaxis together.
United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012)
Though most people know David France’s How to Survive a Plague, 2012 saw several films about ACT UP come out and this one, directed by ACT UP members Sarah Schulman and Jim Hubbard, shows the mechanics behind orchestrating some of the group’s biggest demonstrations.