Saturday, November 13, 2010

Learning through Art: HIV/AIDS in Film--The Age of AIDS

How old is AIDS?

Although I reviewed the related FRONTLINE documentary a few years ago [and then I referred to it while writing my book, Journeys Through Darkness, a story of the life and art of a long-term survivor left legally blind by AIDS-related complications] the question remains timeless, maybe even surpassing a future and hopeful discovery of an AIDS cure.

With World AIDS Day only a few weeks away... we can only ask, yet again:
What is the age of AIDS?
How old is this pandemic?
and also
How old are we willing to allow it to get? When is enough going to be enough when it comes to AIDS? When are we going to put an end to it, for good and forever?

In that sense--of seeking answers to the questions above--The Age of AIDS was an eye-opening, thought-provoking documentary. The subject remains timely and timeless. The review was originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine. I posted it below. Hope you'll enjoy the read.

As always, thanks for visiting,
Alina Oswald

The Age of AIDS
FRONTLINE Documentary
Reviewed by Alina Oswald

How old is AIDS?  Twenty? Twenty-five? Older?  Does it matter?   
It took four years for AIDS to make the headlines.  It took another decade for HAART to come along and turn patients’ lives around.  How long will it take to completely defeat AIDS? 
That’s only one of the questions FRONTLINE’s The Age of AIDS attempts to answer, while documenting the evolution of the pandemic from the first SIV-HIV mutation sometime in 1930s, from the first HIV infection in 1959 in Africa, to the spread of the epidemic to Europe and the U.S. in 1981 and to present day tens of millions of infected people worldwide. 
As we immerse completely in the history of AIDS as it unfolds in front of our eyes, in retrospective we get a new appreciation and understanding of the virus that’s infected seventy million people in the last two decades and a half.  And in the process new questions arise, those regarding our role in determining and designing the future of the pandemic.    
The four-hour documentary compiles expert opinions and interviews with scientists, activists, outreach workers, world leaders and patients, thus piecing together the mosaic of images, components of today’s face of AIDS capturing its continuous transformation, traversing physical and social borders across communities, countries and continents, while becoming a global—as much as a country specific—pandemic.   
For example, Zackie Achmat of Treatment Action Campaign and Justice Edwin Cameron (who’s also the author of Witness to AIDS) of South Africa explain the course of the epidemic in their country, while President Museveni talks about Uganda’s AIDS prevention and education campaign, and Doctor Rozenbaum of France draws parallels between his first AIDS patients and those found in the States, in 1981.
On the home front people like former President Clinton, Doctor Ho, AIDS Quilt Founder Cleve Jones add their stories and opinions to the puzzle that makes today’s face of AIDS, offering a retrospective view of the pandemic while reflecting on its future.
Are we ready for a future free of AIDS and HIV and stigma and prejudice?