Review: Living and Loving in the Age of Aids: A Memoir by Derek Frost


This is the tale of a devastating pandemic, of lives cut painfully short – it’s also a love story.

Derek, a distinguished designer, and J, a pioneering entrepreneur and creator of Heaven, the iconic gay dance club, met and fell in love more than 40 years ago.

In the early 1980s their friends began to get sick and die – AIDS had arrived in their lives. When they got tested, J received what was then a death sentence: he was HIV Positive. While the onset of AIDS strengthened stigma and fear globally, they confronted their crisis with courage, humour and an indomitable resolve to survive. J’s battle lasted six long years.

Turning to spiritual reflection, yoga, nature – and always to love – Derek describes a transformation of the spirit, how compassion and empathy rose phoenix-like from the flames of sickness and death, and how he and J founded the charity Aids Ark, which has helped to save more than 1,000 HIV Positive lives.

This is a story of joy and triumph, of facing universal challenges, of the great rewards that come from giving back. Derek speaks for a generation who lived through a global health crisis that many at the time refused even to acknowledge. His is a powerful story chronicling this extraordinary era. 

100% of the royalties from this book will go to AIDS charities.


Gosh. A memoir about the AIDS epidemic was never going to be an easy read, in many ways I wasn’t prepared for this.

We learn about Derek and J’s story from the very beginning. Growing up, sexual encounters, meeting each other, falling in love. They build their lives, careers, and businesses together – everything seems to be wonderful. They party, enjoy holidays, life and sex!

But then they hear about the ‘gay cancer’ and their lives change forever. Friends fall ill and die. So many die. It is horrible, debilitating, and painful. Their lives become a seemingly never-ending cycle of hospital visits and funerals. I found this part of the book so hard to get through, and many tears were shed.

When J tests positive the cycle of drugs and treatments start, trying to find something, anything, that could save his life. Trying some of the latest drugs and therapies available, even if they haven’t been thoroughly tested yet. The ups and downs, hope, and heartbreak is profound.

Through their battle and their journey, they realise they want to give back and must do something to help others. Together they found the charity Aids Ark and save 1000s of HIV-positive lives.

I was born in the late 80s and from what I recall, was taught little to nothing about HIV and AIDS at school. I have learned so much from this book and the experiences shared by Derek. It was an incredibly scary and extraordinary era that should be much more widely discussed and learnt from now and into the future.

Thank you so much Watkins Publishing for the Proof Copy of this book.

Author Bio

Derek Frost, born 1952, met and fell in love with Jeremy Norman in 1977. He’s a skilled designer, photographer, artist, yoga practitioner and gardener. Together with Jeremy he started numerous businesses including iconic Heaven nightclub and Soho Gyms. They live a nomadic life on both land and water. Derek has other loves – for stones, clouds, dance and street art. One of the two charities they started, Aids Ark, has to date saved over 1,000 lives.

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