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,

Thank you for this wonderful program. It was well-ballanced and did an excellent job of showing the emotionally-charged history of the epidemic. Even now, so many on all sides want to demonize the past actions of those the other side of the politcal spectrum for human mistakes, miscalculations and misjudgments. I am left saddened by the hope that seems lost by so many as we continue to seek solutions to this disease.

As one who grew up in the eighties, many of the events and and they way the world changed as the HIV/AIDS came on the scene form snapshots in my memories. These memories are punctuated by our school's beloved choirmaster passing away during my senior year. The sight of him putting forth the effort attend our annual Christmas Chapel despite his weakened condition and his passing a few months later brought home the epidemic to our mostly middle and upper-class world.

Thank you for also discussing the various education programs fairly. While many see no place for abstinence-focused programs, I am a single, 32 year-old man who is thankful for the examples like NBA player AC Green encouraging us as teenagers to stay abstinent in the face of overwhelming peer-pressure. No isn't easy but is possible and many of my friends confide they wish they had been encouraged by someone to as teenagers to remain abstinent.

Your documentrary was also a healthy reminder for me and the rest of Christ's disciples to follow Bono's and Franklin Graham's example to reach out to those desperately hurting because of this disease in compassion no matter what our differences.

Matthew, Texas

, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was flipping through channels trying to find something engaging to watch earlier tonight and this program stopped me cold in my tracks. I was astounded by the statistics and the sheer enormity of the effect that this disease has had on the human race over the last 25 years.

Thank you for reminding me that although no one that I personally know suffers from this disease I must still do my part in this battle.

McKinney, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is one of the most balanced programs on the politics of HIV/Aids in developing countries that I have ever watched. I found it fascinating to hear the history behind the aid from America, and the time line, but found myself in near tears quite a few times listening to real people speak about their fight against this killer disease.

My husband, who usually doesnt take an interest in such programing, actually watched this one with me, and asked questions or made comments as the show progressed.

It would be my hope that many people who are 'sitting on the fence' or apathetic about sending aid money would change their minds as a result of seeing this program.

Thank you again.

donna m

Dear FRONTLINE,

I feel that having 23 years of infection makes me think I know so much more than I really do about HIV and AIDS. But this information is so very CRITICAL for people who do not know and who do not have a source for getting this life saving info.

People forget that because of the way other's still feel about HIV that so many are still afraid to mention it to their own doctors. When that happens many get tested whether they asked for the test or not, and they are often turned away from friends or family when it's their turn at answering the questions.

I have always made myself available to anyone in getting the message out and it hasn't always been an easy thing since most have assumed that I have the virus, but that's OK. I would rather have the questions asked and possibly save a life than to worry about their feelings of me.

Alan K
Nashville, TN

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for such an enlightening program. I watched this with my--year old son. His father, my first husband, died from AIDS in 1996 when he was 4 years old. My son and I did not contract this disease, somehow, but we lived through the heartache of losing someone we love.

I used to be very open about how my husband died, but have learned to just tell people that it is a long story. No wonder after watching the history of the disease and the stigma that was and is still associated with this disease.

The last scene where the young child was asking the doctor why they were positive was so touching, especially because this could have been my son...thank you again.

Laura T.
Philadelphia, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I want people to know that AIDS patients and their families just need to feel that someone cares. We need solid support and understanding; not a hardened, judgemental attitude. If you know someone who is dealing with this, ask how he/she is doing. Call him/her on the phone. Invite him/her to lunch. Don't pretend as though we are invisible. We need to know that someone, even if it is just one person, genuinely cares. As merely the sister of an AIDS patient, I have seen some of my former friends drop like flies. I can only imagine the lonliness and despair my brother has experienced.

Thank you showing how far we have come in battling this disease, and for revealing the work which lies ahead. AIDS patients and their families are connected, even if we do not know one another. Programs such as this one allow us to see that we are not alone, even though it feels that way most of the time.

Charlotte, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just finished watching this two-part episode on the Age of AIDS. I found myself profoundly moved by this story. To see the suffering that people around the world is hard to comprehend. We tend to be caught up on other news stories and become jaded to the plight of those that are infected. Several things struck from this report. The first one was being reminded how HIV/AIDS affects an individual that is not on treatment. I am a pharmacist now and I can distinctly remember the HIV patients in the hospital at Duke Medical Center when I was on rotations on pharmacy school. In this country, we do not see people infected with HIV that look that way anymore. It is rare. Most individuals get some kind of treatment here and the extreme emaciation that we used to see is uncommon. I venture to say that most health care professionals that graduated in the last 10 years have never seen an individual in that state due to the advances we have made in this country. I speak here of course of those that graduated in the United States. I, myself, was horrified to see people in that state when I was in school. It has been years since I have seen HIV patients in that state of health. To me it was a reminder of where we were and where we have come...but there is still so much more to do.As a pharmacist, I am always being asked questions about why drugs cost so much. I try to explain the best I can. I did not realize that AZT had been given a patent to Burroughs Wellcome in that way. I find it reprehensible that the government patented the drug in that way to them. Quite honestly, it is not surprising. The drug company lobby is so strong in Washington. The real reason drugs cost so much in the United States is that we will pay the price and drug companies know it.As a nation that has, we must help the have-nots. We must make funding available no strings attached to help fight this disease. The monies should not be hamstrung because a few folks find talking about condoms immoral (for lack of a better term). I have the utmost respect for Franklin Graham and the Christian organizations but we must also be pragmatic. I agree that abstinence is best but as they say we are all sinners and we are going slip up. Why not make sure that when we do we have the knowledge and tools to prevent the infections. Condoms are an integral part of stopping the spread of the disease.If we do not do something, someday the medications that we have will not work and we will back to what it was like to have HIV in 1982.

Paul Stone
Tulsa, OK

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you PBS! This program should be viewed by every American whether they suffer from AIDS, know someone who has/does suffer from the disease or never been in contact with the disease. This program is what is needed to educate the ignorant individuals on the orgin of the disease and the effect it has had on our society. A conservative Christian I hope my fellow Christians will view this program and move from their place of ignorance to a place of understanding. I hope that the educators of my Grandchildren will view this program and stop spreading the lies of HIV and AIDS - Thank you PBS!

Fairfield, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I enjoyed watching your "balanced" report on the AIDS pandemic. As an HIV-positive woman, it pains me to see the continued stigma attached to this illness. I believe the fact that sex is taboo in many cultures, political pondiums, & households is what keeps the infection rates on the increase. Politics plays a key role since funding for programs depends largely on politics. However, the people at the grassroots level should not despair, but rather should realize their power and put it to action. Do not let the pharmaceutical companies get richer by delaying distribution of effective drugs!!

Maria Jones
Rochester, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is the best educational and informational program I have ever seen in my entire life. I was touched because of its reality, facts, and most importantly, how we could make a difference. I strongly feel every television station without a doubt should air this non-fiction educational program. Life is not only priceless, but also precious and our Government nor any other Government should ignore such an important issue. I know friends and family members who are HIV positive and are still fighting the virus. Some day we will find a cure, but for now we "have" to, not "need", to focus on education and prevention of HIV. Please do whatever you can to pass the message through other television programs, and know you can count on me.

Miguel Tamayo
mia, fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a recovering i.v. drug user when I begin using the scenario was among predominately afro-americans and the hispanic population. That has changed dramatically in this day and age. The consensus seems to be an overall turn around. The age now is around pre-teens and upwards to mid-twenties. I am now in the process of continuing my education. To advocate abstinence and to stop the spread of the big disease with the little name. And at this point in my life I prefer to remain the code of confidentiality with my H.I.V. status. Only because of the still uneducated majority.

Alex
Chicago, ILL

Dear FRONTLINE,

Many thanks to Renata Simone and William Cran for the incredible job of connecting all the dots and telling the history of this catastrophe in a damning narrative. The website adds even more to their indictment of the US government as Reagan, Helms and other conservatives fanned the flames of bigotry and scapegoating while they advanced policies that served only to ostracize further vulnerable individuals who needed compassion, not fear and hate.

Simone and Cran underline the positive effects of early education and outreach programs by such wonderful people as Noerine Kaleeba in Uganda and Mechai Viravaidya in Thailand.

I am 42 and came out in '82 at Chapel Hill. There I bought newspapers daily from a nice man who lost 40-50 pounds in under 4 months, lost sight in one eye, then the other, and died in April 1983 - He was the first AIDS-related fatality in NC. Very few American gay men under 30 know about the devastation that this plague caused and continues to cause.The drug companies have lulled people with the false conception of AIDS as "a chronically manageable" disease.

This is one of the best Frontlines that I have seen which is quite a feat given the quality of Frontline in general.

Julian Miller
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a heterosexual woman who has been infected with HIV for between 25-26 years (but diagnosed 20 years ago), it has taken me a long time to come "out of the closet" with this disease.

For the last 6 years, I have been educating grades junior high through university level students. I have found that the greatest impact that I can make is by teaching people not to make the same mistakes that I have made. One of the things that is so important is to teach people to work on their self esteem. I show them how a low self esteem can put people at risk.

It's also important to let people know that once a person is diagnosed with HIV, that they are their own best advocate in regards to their health. They have to take their medications as prescribed, eat right and exercise if they want to be able to live a long time with HIV.

I let them know that I watched a whole support group that formed in 1990 die within two years when we only had monotherapy. This gives them an idea of how much better people are doing now that we have combination medicine. At the same time, I tell them that even though we have combination medicine, there is a trade off because we now have a common side effect from the meds called lipodystrophy which can cause early heart disease, diabetes and body shape changes.

Rachel Pobi
Vancouver, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

My husband, Bill, was one of the 90 % of the hemophiliacs in this country infected with HIV; he eventually succumbed 8/96 after a 10 year battle. This group of people (men and women) were virtually wiped out by the very product that they depended on to keep them alive. There was a point when the number of hemophiliacs being infected could have stopped, but for the political, monetary, and social stigma factors involved, thousands more needlessly died. One of the saddest episodes in the history of this country occurred when Ray brothers and Ryan White were forced out/burned out of their homes and schools. And they were not the only hemophiliacs treated worse than lepers.

I have maintained for many, many years that the book and movie "And The Band Played On" should be required viewing in our schools. I will now add this Frontline report to that. These are two of the most powerful presentations I have seen on this subject.

This disease is a tragedy for anyone it touches, no matter the circumstances in which it was contracted. But for the leaders of this country to have turned not only a blind eye, but deaf ear and silent mouth to "their people" at a time when this pandemic could have been dramatically reduced, and still be considered "great men," is completely incomprehensible to me. Their neglect should have been considered criminal.

Susan Eurto
Fort Worth, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a young woman who is HIV positive I was deeply moved watching your program last night. It is amazing to me how much damage our government did during the beginning of this crisis. Perhaps if the president had had a better understanding himself, people in my situation would be met with more compassion rather than condemnation.

I have been positive for 6 years now and my drugs are working so well that I currently have a viral load count of less than 50! Thanks to the Ryan White program I am able to get my much needed medicine for free.It will be a long road ahead for us, and I hope that this program will open disscusions among people and a greater understanding can be acheived.Thank you for your wonderful program!

nashville, TN

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posted may 30, 2006

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