In sub-Saharan Africa today, AIDS is not only a vast humanitarian tragedy, but also a dire threat to regional stability. As death rates from AIDS exceed the rate at which teachers, doctors, and security forces can be trained and maintained, whole nations may begin to collapse. Perhaps the only benefit from Angola’s long civil war is that the country now has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Southern Africa. Strategically important because of its oil reserves, Angola is now coping with the problems of peace. As refugees and soldiers return home and transportation and trade resume, the spread of AIDS looms. In response to this new enemy the government has once again rallied its military forces. WIDE ANGLE explores the role of the military, the only functioning arm of the state, in its bold attempt to combat the AIDS pandemic. The challenges it faces offer an arresting portrait of a nation at a crucial moment in history.
Wide Angle anchor Mishal Husain introduces AIDS Warriors. After 30 years of civil war, the Angolan military is fighting a new enemy – the AIDS virus. Corporal Neto Gaspar Salvador confronts early stages of the disease, while Dr. Eric Bing learns more about sex in Angola in order to design an AIDS prevention program. Corporal Gaspar and Angola’s soldiers learn more about AIDS, and a television journalist tries to break public stereotypes that inhibit prevention. Activists teach Angolan prostitutes about condoms, while Dr. Bing and his team find some hope in the middle of the country. Wide Angle anchor Mishal Husain interviews Stephen Lewis, UN Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, 2001-2006.