Prior to his diagnosis, Ron Woodruff (played excellently by Matthew McConaughey) believes that HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, only affects homosexual men. Ron Woodruff is a junkie who among other things has unprotected sex with a large number of women. He initially doesn’t understand how he has acquired HIV, but slowly accepts and understands his fate after being given only thirty days to live upon initial diagnosis, but he rejects the notion that he will die in thirty days; having a rodeo background he absolutely refuses to go down under the time given. He was given thirty days in 1985. He lived until the year 1992.
Just around the time Woodruff was diagnosed, a new drug called AZT was the first pharmaceutical approved by the FDA to help treat patients stricken with HIV/AIDS. The drug was only approved for testing purposes, however, and only a small number of patients got a hold of it.