When the AIDS epidemic first hit in the U.S., the face of the disease was one that was white and gay. Fast forward to the present, and the face resembles one that looks like yours and mine. We are 10 times more likely to contract HIV than our white counterparts.
AIDS is a Black disease, too.
While African-Americans make up 14 percent of the overall U.S. population, we account for more than half of all new HIV infections diagnosed each year. And to make matters worse, we are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time than any other racial group, meaning we're less likely to get tested until we're very ill.
And even though we are in the midst of a serious public health crisis, many media outlets and filmmakers ignore it. But a new documentary on PBS aims at shedding more light on this crucial issue.
Endgame: AIDS in Black America, directed and written by Renata Simone, takes a deep look at what fuels the epidemic in our community. It also includes the real-life stories of people living with HIV/AIDS, which range from NBA legend Magic Johnson to AIDS activist and public speaker Marvelyn Brown and Nel, a 63-year-old grandmother who married a deacon in her church and later found an HIV diagnosis tucked into his Bible.
Endgame explores how politics, social factors and cultural factors allowed the AIDS epidemic to spread rapidly in the African-American community over the past three decades. The film — shot in churches, harm-reduction clinics, prisons, nightclubs and high school classrooms — tells personal stories from children who were born with the virus, public health officials and educators who run HIV clinics, and clergy members around the country, many of whom have been divided on their response to the epidemic.
The film also explores how the war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s affected the spread of HIV in communities where large percentages of African-American men were incarcerated.
Simone emphasizes that racial inequality affects our vulnerability to HIV infection. In a PBS press statement, she said, “The film is about race in America as much as it is about HIV — how a virus has exploited our inability to deal with our problems around race." She added, “In part I hoped to show how the big, abstract social issues come to rest on people every day, in the limited life choices they face. The story of HIV in black America is about the private consequences of the politics of race.”
Will you be watching?
View "Endgame: AIDS in Black America" trailer here.
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