Oxnard native Steven Thrasher writes book on ‘The Viral Underclass’

Steven Thrasher

Author Steven Thrasher knew about AIDS before he knew about sex.

Though he did not come out as gay until his 20s, he remembered learning about Ryan White getting barred from middle school in the 1980s for having AIDS. As a child growing up in Oxnard, he watched his parents participate in anti-apartheid protests and learned at an early age about the importance of engaging in social issues.

“There were these non-normative queer ways of being that I understood from activism and life in Oxnard,” Thrasher said.

Thrasher, 44, currently works as a journalism professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Illinois, serving as the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg Chair of social justice in reporting.

His new book, “The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Colide,“is out Tuesday and combines memoir and research to create a framework for understanding how viruses disproportionately affect populations, from HIV/AIDS to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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