The AIDS crisis in the US in the 1980s radically transformed the relationship between sexual minorities and capitalism. Opportunistic infections given free rein in human bodies by HIV rendered employees visible to employers and to health care providers as an economic risk, and set the stage for battles between health capitalists, politicians, and AIDS activists over access to health care. Health capitalism in 1980s America was both an arena of integration of queer Americans into mainstream society and also a political cul-de-sac, blunting the radical possibilities of sexual politics that were alive in the years before the AIDS crisis. In this article I focus on activist groups, primarily ACT UP, Gay Men's Health Crisis, National Gay Rights Advocates, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the liberal politicians who led legislative battles at federal and state level to force the health care system to respond to AIDS. In shifting our gaze from the Reagan administration and the religious right as the primary foils to AIDS activism, we can gain new insights into the direction of liberal politics in an era of supposed conservative ascendancy. An understanding of how AIDS activists and their allies negotiated questions of health access suggests that health care activism was in part a marker of class privilege, as gay activists and liberal Democrats openly embraced a medical model for sexual minorities that lifted them above the stigma of a public welfare system and integrated them further into heteronormative capitalism.