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 am an HIV researcher, primarily in vaccine design, but also epidemiology and the evolution of drug resistance. Although I work in a rather "high tech" field, it has always been clear that much of the solution to AIDS has to be public education, and government public health policies that are driven by social sciences and medical sciences and not by politics, religion and other factors.

Although money alone cannot fight this virus, it takes money to train people, to fund programs, and to provide testing, drugs, and other services. Every dollar effectively spend on prevention can save hundreds of dollars in treatment, care of orphans, and other problems.

The world today in theory has the economic and technical capacity to put and end to polio and tuberculosis, and to greatly slow the AIDS pandemic. We lack the political and/or social willpower to demand that the healthy rich of the world use a reasonable percentage of their wealth to end the suffering of the poor.

Brian Foley
Los Alamos, NM

Dear FRONTLINE,

I worked as a temporary secretary at an AIDS unit back in the late 80's and was introduced to the heterosexual aspect of the virus and the victims among the IV drug abusers and the women who were their partners (as well as their children). I then wrote about it in a curriculum for the schools. The level of anxiety I encountered on an alcoholism program among nurses in the early 1980's, women who should have known better, was abysmal.

I am appalled at the politics of AIDS. I am appalled at the religious right refusing to get behind condoms and instructions on using them. They are killing people in their arrogance. Reagan was ill-advised and, had AIDS been an illness of rich elderly men in the 1980's, we'd have a cure by now.

Thank you for the program.

Karen Silver
Bronx, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you so much for producing this documentary. AIDS is truly the Plague of our time, and everyone around the world needs to be thoroughly educated about the disease and its amazing history. It seems, after watching last night's part one episode, that the best way to prevent the spread of AIDS is through constantly educating the public, especially young people, about how HIV is transmitted and what you can do to prevent yourself from getting HIV. In this country, we need a fresh look and attitude towards AIDS education, and I can see that is starting to happen now that AIDS has been with us for a quarter of a century. I am hopeful about President Bush's initiative in the fight against the AIDS pandemic, and I hope that in the future our lawmakers will take a much more realistic look at what needs to be done to fight AIDS in spite of their own personal moral judgments.

Again, thank you for airing this fascinating and informative documentary.

Yours,Paul Wild

Paul Wild
Tucson, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your outstanding work in "The Age of AIDS." The comparative perspective is particularly good, if painful is showing just how backwards the US is in approaching AIDS prevention and treatment.

That the feds still bar AIDS education that includes frank discussions of gay sex is ludicrious. How many more thousands of people need to die?

Catherine Lugg
Belle Mead, NJ

Dear FRONTLINE,

My Father was a Hemophilliac who was infected with HIV due to the lack of response of the Government, the American Medical Association and more importantly the Blood Banks. I was 10 years old in 1985 when my Father was infected and I was blessed to have- years with him. Holding my Father's hand as he passed away was devastating. Watching the lack of accountability and indifference of key decision makers who could have saved thousands, including my Father, was apalling.My heart aches for the people who have worked for years to try to make a difference with the Aids crisis. I salute the efforts of Frontline and this program to continue to educate and inform a reluctant Public.I was too young in 1985 to make a difference, I am not too young today.

Tricia Vance
Louisville, Kentucky

Dear FRONTLINE,

My thanks to you for excelling beyond my expectations for even Frontline.

Although the news of the world is often the source for despair, and I confess a reason I had "taken a break" from watching regularly, your production, like many that are gracing the progamming of PBS, focussed much needed attention on positive experiences and succcessful initiatives, however humble, that have been and are characteristic of the human spirit. The words from the people of Uganda and Thailand and those of people the world over, resonate with clarity and remind us of our potential.

Eric Whitcombe
San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I've got to tip my hat to your thorough presentation the first night of airing, May 30th.

I'm H.I.V. positive and I was diagnosed in 2001, so I still consider myself newly diagnosed because I've encountered so many other H.I.V. positive and A.I.D.S. patients that have been infected 10, 20 or 30 years. They're stillliving with an unwanted tenant in their bodies, I am so fortunate to have met many of them, for they have given me hope and knowledge.

Your broadcast teaches the masses what I so painstakingly had to learn the hard way, I commend and applaud you, I sincerely believe you're making a difference by telling it like it is from day one to the present. It may not all come out smelling of roses but who says the the truth was clean cut and pretty. This disease has a very ugly side to it and thankfully your show is as raw as the truth is plain. Can't wait till tonight's showing, I'll be there.

Emil Sullivan
ALBANY, NEW YORK

Dear FRONTLINE,

While once again seeing Reagan's apathy and John Roberts' ill-informed inhumanity, I wish you would have mentioned C. Everett Koops' remarkable AIDS report.He saw that this Surgeon General's report was mailed to every US household--a feat I still salute.

Paula Thompson
Jacksonville, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

i am a 50yr old samesexual man who lived in san francisco in the early 80's. i write to express my sincere appreciation for your detailed report on aids and it's ugly politics. in the midst of that burgeoning catastrophe a friend of mine pointed out to me that i was taking it all too much in stride as though it was just normal life. as she observed, and rightly, it was anything but normal life.

last night i dreamed of sadness, of those days when i would loses consciousness from weeping. it is still not such a normal life but i notice most days, in my head or aloud, i am humming liebestraum.there is a character in "ship of fools", i think frau von bittersdorf, and this about her haunts me (from memory);she had always believed so deeply that human beings wished only to be quiet and happy, each in his own way. but there was a spirit of evil in them that could not let each other be in peace.one man's good must always crowd out another's and one must always take his own good at anothers expense, or so it seemed. god forgive us all.

ex animo, robert puglia

robert puglia
urbana, ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

My husband and I watched your show with such interest. We are both HIV positive. Him since 1993 me since 2003. We are heterosexual's who got this disease from sharing needles. Him from an unknown. I got it from him in one of the few times I ever used a needle. We only had 2 needles and mine clogged. We had looked for more, but of course it is illegal to buy them unless you have a prescription. We wanted to be careful, planned to be careful, but we had no access to clean works.

We are in our mid 40's and only a couple of people know we are positive. This is because we live in a very rural part of West Virginia where people openly talk about hate for "those people" with AIDS. We are scared to tell doctors, hospitals etc that we are positive because when we do, these people go from treating you with dignity and respect to barely talking to or touching you.

While education is so necessary most of what people see on the news is: mulipartnered homosexuals, african americans or active drug users with HIV, or innocent children who have this disease. What they rarely see are: middle aged heterosexuals who have straightened out their lives, successful african american's or singled partered homosexuals. The world needs to see not just hear that anyone can have this disease. It only takes one screw up in your life. Life still goes on. While in certain communities there is are support groups or friends going thru the same thing you are, there are so many of us who have no one. We have to travel almost 2 hours to see a doctor who knows anything about this disease. More education is needed for schools, physicans, nurses, EMT's etc, not just in treatment of the body, but in treatment of the person.

St George, WV

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was surprised to find out that Uganda, had the compassion andleadership, that our country lacks. Sufice to say, thank you,for your excellent coverage of a pandemic, that may well wipe out most of Africa, before any "Leadership" people get a clue. I pray that the pharmacutical companies will keep trying to breach the cure.

J. Michele Thevenet
Bailey, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

Until the world & people realize that AIDS is not just the other person's problem we will continue to suffer. AIDS is wiping out poor people in the developed world and a many of in the poorer nations. If we do not all join to fight this common enemy, we are sunk.

My own family has been impacted by this disease and unfortunately I can say that it takes a personal encounter with the disease to change people's perceptions and actions to participate in this problem. In the meantime education is our best tool and for the many infected we need affordable or better yet FREE medication, isn't anyone thinking of the forthcoming problem of all those AIDS orphans?

My siblings & I are lucky to have a mother who is a fighter. She has refused to let the disease take her down like it did my father and aunt!!! Thanks to antiretroviral drugs she is living but dealing with the side effects!!! Pray that this disease never comes knocking at your door!

Renee Bass
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to bringing humanity's most important issues to a world stage through your programs. I have been diagnosed with HIV since 1987 and have been living with full blown AIDS since 2004, and while I watched your program I realized just how much I have forgotten about the early days of this disease. Living with a disease for so long can, at times, be emotionally numbing. Thank you for helping to remove some of that numbness through tears and anger, while watching this!

James Davis
Southern Pines, North Carolina

Dear FRONTLINE,

We not only need more education, but we also need our government to stop abstinence only programs. When are our leaders going to listen to the experts in dealing with this pandemic and see what is truly needed to combat this terrible disease. There needs to be a realistic multi approach option in this fight.A combination of education, free condoms, needle exchange,testing,and better access to treatment.The horror of AIDS will only get worse When our leaders continue to tie care givers hands by restricting how federal money can be obtained when it's limited to an abstinence only approach.

Stephen Wright
Birmingham, Alabama

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for doing this program. I just finished reading the interview of Richard Holbrooke and I agree entirely that testing should be required. If testing is required for everyone who gets married then the stigma of being tested will be greatly reduced. You'll be able to say to your partner, "I'm not saying I don't believe you when you say you've never had unprotected sex -- all I'm asking is that you do what the law requires."

Jim Carpenter
Milwaukee, WI

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posted may 30, 2006

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