If you opened a newspaper/site in the past 3 months, you’ve read about the latest medical scare, the swine flu. This nasty virus is responsible for school closings, numerous deaths, and Vice President Biden’s panicked statement urging people to stay away from confined spaces. (Not all of us have secret service personal driving us to work, Mr. Vice President). Swine flu is a grave matter, and a swift response is needed to assure that the situation does not worsen and a vaccine can be developed as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, compared to another global epidemic, one that has plagued us for three decades and killed over 25 million people, swine flu is a minor hiccup. I’m talking, of course, about HIV/AIDS. While progress is being made to stabilize the incident rate of the disease, there are still an unacceptably high number of new cases every year. Over 30 million people live with this disease worldwide, including a million right here in the US. Maybe even more troubling than the mere numbers, is the fact that AIDS has crippled economies, orphaned millions of children, and slowed the development of struggling countries. And while swine flu has a cure, AIDS still does not!
So why am I rambling about AIDS? To be honest, among the many global issues I try to follow, AIDS hasn’t really been one of them. It also seems we have been hearing about it less and less, especially amid all the influenza scares. But many documentary filmmakers are still choosing to address the AIDS problem. Our screening committee received a number of documentaries about AIDS, and while I can’t reveal the names of the films chosen (yet!), I can guarantee AIDS will be one of the topics presented in the festival.
AIDS is a global threat and it requires a global response — you can join this global effort by becoming more informed. I urge you all to be a little more curious than I was and research this epidemic… see the organizations below for a jumping-off point.
– AIDS.gov is a website primarily dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness in the U.S.
– President Bush launched U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, and it is largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history
– The CDC’s HIV/AIDS page provides valuable AIDS related statistics and resources
– UNAIDS is the UN’s main AIDS challenging body. It brings together hundreds of counties, agencies, and organizations to prevent, treat, and research AIDS.