“Today in America, 152 people will become infected with HIV. Half of them will be Black.”
The stark reality of this statement is brought to the forefront in “Endgame: AIDS in Black America,” a “Frontline” special presentation airing at 9 p.m. on July 10 on WHYY TV12.
Statistics show that every 10 minutes, someone in the U.S. contracts HIV, and of those individuals, half are Black. Thirty years after the discovery of the AIDS virus among gay white men, nearly half of the 1 million people in the United States infected with HIV are Black men, women and children.
The two-hour documentary explores “one of the country’s most urgent, preventable health crises. tracing the history of the epidemic through the experiences of extraordinary individuals who tell their stories; people like Nel, a 63-year-old grandmother who married a deacon in her church and later found an HIV diagnosis tucked in his Bible; Tom and Keith, survivors who were children born with the virus in the 1990s; and Jovanté, a high school football player who didn’t realize what HIV meant until it was too late.
The film also examines how fear and silence perpetuate the spread of the AIDS virus in the Black community. “Endgame” also brings to light the challenges faced by those who are born with the virus.
“AIDS is God’s curse to a homosexual life. I think it stinks in the nostrils of God,” one clergyman observes.
From Magic Johnson to civil rights pioneer Julian Bond, from pastors to health workers, people on the front lines tell moving stories of the battle to contain the spread of the virus, and the opportunity to finally turn the tide of the epidemic.
“I’m not cured, I’ve been taking my meds,” said basketball great Ervin “Magic” Johnson, who shocked the world when he announced that he was HIV-positive in 1991. “I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m living with the virus in my blood system and in my body.”
“We thought about AIDS as afflicting only white people, and then only gay white people,” said Julian Bond. “There were no gay black people.”
“Endgame: AIDS in Black America,” is directed, produced and written by Renata Simone, the producer of the 2006 award-winning “Frontline” series “The Age of AIDS.”