The Age of Aids [home page]

In South Africa, Dr. Glenda Gray explains to Thokozila Sibisi why she is HIV positive.

 

join the discussion: What are your reactions to this film? What are your thoughts on why the world has failed to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have to commend you on such a thorough program on AIDS. I am just shocked and stunned to find out what a global problem AIDS is. I am a nursing student and we had 30 minute lecture on AIDS and AIDS drugs.

I am sickened that for such a global problem we spent so little time. We all are going to have to deal with this epidemic in our lifetime and to not address it more thoroughly to our future health care providers upsets me. This should be required viewing for all health care providers and educators.

Lisa Hoff
Tinley Park, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

In response to Mr. Cooper's statements that the funding for AIDS meds should be redirected to orphans of AIDS... While the number orphans resulting from the epidemic is a huge problem that does need to be addressed, funding AIDS medications DOES help prevent new infections by decreasing the infectivity of the persons taking meds as well as having them engaged in care where they get counseling on protecting others. As well, if the parents are treated and maintain their health, there wouldn't BE so many orphans of AIDS to begin with.

I work in AIDS care, and I commend you on the accuracy and breadth of your reporting. I often see shocking inaccuracies in the media reporting about this disease, and that did not happen during your presentation. It was interesting to get the political perspective that is not often appreciated by the public at large. Both distressing and heartening responses by our world leaders. There is so much work yet to do. I am constantly amazed at how little even educated people understand about this disease. When people tell me I am "brave" to work with AIDS patients, I now respond "I'm not brave, just educated."

Terri Bramel
Anchorage, alaska

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank You for such a broad view on this epidemic.I was moved on how all those individuals involved with the fight against this monster of a virus never gave up and worked hard to promote the awarness and intervention of this disease that has swept the entire world.

Overall me and my family's biggest concern is for the future of all those children in Africa, what will become of them? I only can tell you that they will be in my daily prayers form this day forward untill we can find a solution that in somepoint in my lifetime will engulf the entire world no matter what your social or financial status will be.

Daniel Palacios
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear FRONTLINE,

First of all I want to thank PBS and Frontline for such an informative and eye opening documentary about HIV/AIDS in our world. As an HIV/AIDS Educator and someone that has been directly affected by this disease; I can tell you that we need more of this type's of programs in our homes. I

Unfortunatelly in our State of Florida; sex education is a big taboo, when I get invited to speak at schools in my area, I can only bring "abstinence only" messages to the students, NOT THE REALITY! They rather have a nursery for all of their pregnant moms after they give birth at the High School; than showing them real life sex education, having condom distribution programs. etc. It is very sad... It is this double standard that hinders the efforts of all of us that work in the "trenches" and that have to tell an 18 year old newly diagnosed - "Sorry but your results are positive". It is time for our Government to wake up!

Abstinence messages work when there are loving and responsible parents at the home to reinforce the message, and that is not our American reality.

Key West, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

As usual Frontline does not disappoint. Thank you for an outstanding report. We have known for some time that transmission of HIV/AIDS (except in children and hemopheliacs) is behavior based whereas leprosy and the plague were not, so Bono's comparison doesn't work for me.

I realize my attitude leaves me prey to criticism. However, I believe I am not alone in this viewpoint, and it may be why general public response to the crisis seems less compelling than other health issues. I was stunned by the commercial sex workers' unwillingness to acknowledge their role in the proliferation of the virus. Likewise the bath house mentality which has returned to the gay nightclub scene according to recent surveys and reports I have seen. The last scene with the child asking the doctor how she became positive -- heartbreaking!

Education, education, education!!!

Orland Park, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I grew up poor. One of the only things I had for entertainment was reading. My mother purchased the 1979 World Book Encyclopedia for us. I was 8 years old and read every volume. Not too long ago, I opened up the A volume; now the property of my niece. Out of curiosity, I looked up AIDS. There was nothing. I knew there would not be, but it still is amazing that a disease that has been an issue since I was 10 was once unknown.

It seems like AIDS has been here forever. I remember a world without it, but it is like a dream. What will stop the epdemic? We have to change our behavior. I encourage everyone to read "Love and Responsibility" by Pope John Paul II. It is a battle cry for humanity to respect our bodies and sexuality; to stop using the other and recognize that we are made in the image of God!

This Frontline was incredible. May I live to see an entry that reads. "AIDS was once.....

Coretta Alexander
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Bono's apparently successful efforts to convince the American government to establish a fund for providing anti-HIV cocktails to the poor of the world would be better spent trying to convince the world to fund orphanages for AIDS victims'children.

Providing the cocktails does not prevent the spread of the disease, especially under the conditions and mindsets described in the show,whereas providing orphanages would provide a modicum of socio-economic stability in future generations. Starving wild orphans run amok is a nightmare for any society.

robert cooper
phoenix, az

Dear FRONTLINE,

I share the positive responses from your viewing audience, what an eye opener.

Well written, well researched and the best narrator ever.

I would like to get into the how well I was informed by your special but it has been stated many times by the comments posted.

I would like to ask a question -

How come Bill and Melinda Gates were only mentioned in brief and it was never mentioned how much they have donated to the cause?

Paul LaMere
Calgary, Alberta

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

As with so much of this story, there was not enough time to cover all the many facets of the effort to fight HIV/AIDS. However, this web site goes deeper into the issues and stories including the Bill land Melinda Gates funding. Go to the PAST & FUTURE section ( or use the special search engine of the site) to find a report on the "financing" of anti-AIDS programs.

Dear FRONTLINE,

In an age of self-absorbed blogging that substitutes for insight, we actually have some real old-fashioned journalism that doesn't apologize for being thorough with the Frontline contribution on AIDS. As a journalist who once spent years covering AIDS in the 1980s, I felt embarrassed while watching the show at how much I had missed in the politics of HIV/AIDS since the mid-90s. Maybe there will be a method of updating this story annually?

Matt Hamblen
Ashland, Massachusetts

Dear FRONTLINE,

i am a devoted Frontline viewer, i want to thank you for the program on the age of aids...i learned so much in the four hours, that i watched this documentary....i wish some how the frontline programs/documentaries were a weekly part of every high school in america...

jean laino
amherst, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

But from the moment the program flashed on the screen I was riveted and all at once shocked, appalled, sadenned and mobilized. I have never felt compelled to commend a news program. Frontline deserves huge praise for bringing this epidemic back into the forefront of our minds and explaining so clearly its reach, immensity and impact. I am a 27-year-old woman who tries to stay fairly aware of world issues. But I was embarrassed that I had no idea Nelson Mandela was not a leader in the fight against AIDS. I was just as embarrassed to not know that his successor even denies that the HIV virus causes AIDS.Just as disgusted as I am by their lack of leadership and action I am heartened by the compassion and dedication of the all nameless and faceless nurses, activists and others who make this epidemic their crusade as well as the very well-known faces, such as Bono, who are literally changing the world by their sincere committment and new way of thinking.My husband came in during the last 45 minutes of the show. Instead of turning away when he saw the topic, he sat with me in stunned silence until the very end. "Oh my god," he said at the end. "I had no idea." Thank you, Frontline, for giving us and countless others a wake-up call with your balanced, thorough and raw account.

Melissa Nolan
Austin, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thankyou Frontline for that educational piece on the world of HIV/AIDs that has affected the whole world and not Africa alone like is alwasys sounds. The interviews with the doctors and activists, and those infected gave a good insight on why we need to act now and stop blaming different types of groups, instead we should be looking for a solution to stop the death of the 40 million people who may die because of it. Will you be realising a DVD for sale in regards to that documentary, i never watched it from the beginning and would be very interested in purchasing one.

Mwikali Kivuvani
Olathe, Ks

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The entire Age of AIDS series will be available on this web site for viewing beginning Friday, June 2. And, DVDs are available for purchase - go to the TAPES & TRANSCRIPTS section of this web site to order.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I really enjoined watching the program. AIDS is a complex, difficult topic. Frontline did an extraordinary job in exploring it in such a fair, informative, and comprehensive manner. The program will go a long way to restore Frontline's reputation and credibility.The current frontline in the fight against AIDS is testing and whether there should be liability for knowingly infecting others. The issue generates passionate debates because it touches upon the foundation of a free open society - namely, how to balance individual freedom and responsibility. I hope Frontline will make a follow up program, and help the society to make an open, frank discussion of such an important issue.

Zan L
Portland, OR

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The PAST & FUTURE section of this web site has a report on the new thinking on HIV testing, and the expected recommendation by the CDC this summer that all Americans, age- to 64, have an HIV test as part of their routine medical check ups. Also read the interview with Richard Holbrooke which addresses in part the testing issue.

Dear FRONTLINE,

As an HIV/AIDS educator working in schools, churches and every venue, I was heartened to see that PBS finally undertook to report on the serious nature of the AIDS pandemic. Many aspects of the program were informative, especially for the general public. However, precious airtime was wasted on taking an approach of blame and political ax-grinding, as well as discounting the value of the only approach which has actually brought infections down. The failure of the administrations in the U.S., the UN, WHO, the South African leaders, and the drug companies to understand the threat are certainly tragic. So, however, were the factors which you didn't mention. The entire story of the spread of AIDS is of millions of stupic and tragic blunders--by everyone from the person putting a needle in his or her arm, to the person having anonymous sex, to the soldier raping villagers, to the medical establishment refusing to treat this as a public health issue for fear of lawsuits and activism. Very few hands are clean--including the media, who either fueled the stigma with senstionalist reporting, or have kept silent on this plague as it decimated the poorest of the poor nations, and the poorest of our own nation.

Kate Tsubata
Hyattsville, MD

Dear FRONTLINE,

What a powerful program! My thoughts are many: Your program was keenly focused and uninterrupted. It is an example of the best of television: You educated and re-informed about this dreadful disease.

But also, the history of HIV gave some perspective about how to move the power centers of our society. Like in the art of Judo, political and religious institutions were moved to action only when the message changed from confrontation to presentation of common goals. Bono approached Sen. Helms on his own terms, and succeeded where others failed.

Now we need to find a way to make condoms into religious articles.

Charles Hyams, MD
Miami, FL

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posted may 30, 2006

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