While it was much lauded when it first came out, the book has since been blamed for a rash of laws that criminalize non-disclosure of HIV status. Activists have claimed that such laws have actually discouraged potentially-infected individuals from getting tested.
Many HIV/AIDS activists have denounced the book for its portrayal of flight attendant Gaetan Dugas as a Depraved Homosexual who deliberately infected people with HIV. They argue that the book (and subsequent movie) were directly responsible for the creation of laws criminalizing deliberate nondisclosure of HIV status, which has in turn caused many potentially-infected individuals to avoid getting tested for fear of potential legal consequences.
Mis-blamed: Critics have blamed Shilts for spreading the misconception that Gaetan Dugas brought HIV to the United States. Shilts never actually made such a claim; he merely stated that Dugas played a significant role in spreading the disease throughout North America.
Harsher in Hindsight: The 2014 Ebola outbreak, specially given the opening scene deals with the first Ebola outbreak in Africa and how it was contained before it could reach the outside world. Cue 2014, where Ebola cases began to show up in America (but luckily died out).