Ronald Woodroof, a Dallas native, was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, and was not allowed to participate in the AZT drug trials. He began researching the disease, and found various drugs and other antivirals were available in other countries, which had not been approved by the FDA for distribution in the U.S. Because of the long wait time for drug approvals, and the short life expectancy after being diagnosed with HIV, Woodroof decided to take action by creating the Dallas Buyer’s Club, in 1988. Though AZT was approved as the sole treatment of HIV by then, there were many who could not afford the medication or worried about AZT’s long-term effectiveness because HIV quickly became resistant to AZT. The Dallas Buyer’s Club provided imported and smuggled experimental treatments to those with HIV/AIDS, which had little evidence showing they were effective against the disease.
In 1996, a new method of treatment was developed and approved for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, known as highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). HAART utilizes small doses of AZT along with other drugs that hamper HIV’s resistance to AZT. This method of treatment has allowed people to live with this disease in a way that is manageable, but the estimated lifetime cost of this treatment, according to the CDC, is $379,668 (in 2010 dollars).