If you’ve been sexually active in the last 30 years, you’ve had to confront the specter of AIDS.
On July 27, 1982 at a meeting in Washington, DC, the Centers for Disease Control tried to define a growing epidemic, calling it the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Nobody knew what caused the condition. At the time male gays, intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs and Hatians were considered to be at risk. It took until the next year for the CDC to recognize that women should not sleep with men who had AIDS.
In the thirty years since, more than 25 million victims have died. There is still no cure. Each year 50,000 more Americans get infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
AIDS is still incurable. Medication is very expensive and HIV causes a range of severe side effects. When left untreated, AIDS kills.
In Venice, Checkmate Pictures is launching an effort to fund a new documentary, AIDS at Thirty that will look at where the epidemic is now. Why is the disease so tough to beat? What is our best strategy for fighting AIDS? What is state of the art treatment and prevention?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, of the 1.2 million HIV+ people in the United States, 72 percent are not being treated effectively. Hundreds of thousands don't know they're HIV+ because they remain symptom free after they've become infectious. They risk not only their own health but increase the likelihood of infecting others.
AIDS at Thirty will expose AIDS hot spots like prisons where condoms are confiscated as contraband. The documentary will examine the alarming growth in the number of women getting infected with HIV, particularly minority women.
Yet there is hope with three simple steps that people can take to halt the epidemic in its tracks: Practice Safe Sex, Get Tested, and Get Treated. Years ago, doctors didn’t offer medication until a victim’s immune system was seriously impaired. Now the goal is to immediately attack HIV with a mix of medications to suppress the virus until its presence is so minuscule that it’s undetectable. A recent study showed that when the virus was suppressed to this extent, it not only prolonged the victims’ lives, but stopped them from infecting others by a startling 96 percent!
One combination pill has proven so effective that in mid May an advisory panel urged the FDA to approve Truvada as the first drug that can significantly prevent HIV infection. When given to HIV negative heterosexual partners of those who were infected, Truvada cut infection by 75 percent.
In better times, this documentary would have been funded by the City of Los Angeles, but LA is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, so Checkmate Pictures has turned to Kickstarter, the crowd fundraising platform for help.
This is a story that is not being told and should be. If you have lost friends or loved ones to AIDS, honor their memory by helping with this effort. To learn more about contributing to this worthy documentary, go to Kickstarter for details. Please share this posting with others.