- Faith & Family
“ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America,” which premiered last Tuesday and will continue to be shown, is breaking the silence on one of the world’s most deadliest viruses — HIV/AIDS. The documentary is asks a profound question that many are unwilling to utter: “Why are the rates of AIDS and HIV-infection disproportionately higher among Blacks?”
According to the new PBS film, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV every 9.5 minutes. Half of those new infections are Blacks. At the same time, leaders meeting in Washington D.C. for the International AIDS Conference announced an official declaration calling for a renewed global urgency for the countless AIDS-related deaths.
Miami-Dade: An unenviable #1 in cases
Meanwhile here in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as previously reported in The Miami Times [June 20 - June 26, 2012], the numbers of new AIDS cases in the Black community continue to rise in both areas. In fact, Miami-Dade County [M-DC] holds the top spot for newly-reported HIV infections. What is even more troubling is that while Blacks make up 20 percent of the population in M-DC, they account for 51.5 percent of AIDS cases. Broward’s numbers are equally alarming where Blacks comprise 25 percent of the population but make up 57.6 percent of AIDS cases. The odds appear to be stacked against the Black community but the documentary insists that the epidemic is preventable.
“HIV is entirely preventable and I agree with Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick who says the end of the epidemic is ‘within our power but we have to have courage to do the things that are difficult,” Simone said.
Vanessa Mills, executive director for Liberty City’s only Black HIV/AIDS counseling service, Empower-U, Inc. agrees.
“We’ve known that we could reduce the numbers for some time,” she said. “We can prevent children from being born HIV-positive with medication and we can also make sure that an HIV-positive partner does not spread the virus to their significant other. We just haven’t made the medication readily available. There’s something wrong with that picture.”
A closer look at ENDGAME
The film is directed, produced and written by Renata Simone, the producer of the award-winning FRONTLINE series “The Age of AIDS.” In her new film, she makes awareness her mission, yet again and equips viewers with their most valuable asset in the fight against HIV/AIDS — knowledge.
The documentary tracks the history of the virus and shows stories of how men and women are living their lives since being infected. Vignettes include: a high school football player named Jovanté who know nothing about HIV until he contracted it; and Nel, a 63-year-old grandmother who married a deacon in her church and found her husband’s HIV-positive diagnosis hidden in his Bible. NBA great Magic Johnson and civil rights pioneer Julian Bond also lend their stories to the film.
“This film is a series of stories told by people about themselves and their lives,” Simone said. “It’s been a privilege to use my art and skills to introduce the world to such memorable men, women and young people.
On Wednesday, July 11, The Miami Times live-tweeted the documentary to readers and featured some of our readers’ comments about the film as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
By Ju’lia Samuels and D. Kevin McNeir