By Jesse Brooks
The public is invited to participate in a conversation at the Bay Area’s first public showing of PBS’s Frontline documentary “End Game: AIDS in Black America.”
This documentary explores how politics, social factors and cultural factors allowed the AIDS epidemic to spread rapidly in the African American community over the past three decades.
The film was originally released in July 2012, and premiered at the 2012 International AIDS conference held in Washington. It has done what Renatta Simone, producer, writer and director intended it to do, encouraging people to start to talk and be aware of the conditions African Americans face regarding HIV/AIDS in America.
In 1986, 20 percent of all people in the United States living with AIDS were African American. The most recent statistics from Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that 45 percent of all new cases of HIV infection are among African Americans.
In the film Simone explores why the HIV epidemic is so much more prevalent among African Americans than among whites. “The film is about race in America as much as it is about HIV, how a virus has exploited our inability to deal with our problems around race,” said Simone, who also produced the award winning series, “The Age of AIDS,” which appeared on Frontline in 2006.
Why is HIV so much worse in the Black Community? This is a question that comes up all the time at speaking engagements. This film gives the answer. Three years in the making, this groundbreaking documentary film tells the story of how, from the earliest days, prejudice, silence and stigma allowed the virus to spread deep into the Black community.
The film was shot coast to coast in Los Angeles, Oakland, Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.; in churches, clinics, a high school classroom, a prison, a nightclub, a restaurant kitchen and on the street.
Meet others from the film, like Nel Davis, who told her story of being 65-year-old Black woman, infected by a deacon she married from her church and how she found out his status when a piece of paper with the positive HIV test results fell out of his bible one day while she was cleaning.
According to Dr. Marsha Martin, an HIV prevention leader, “We have achieved some things as Black people in America because the civil rights movement got us to some places. But at the same time, AIDS is everywhere, showing us all the places that we have missed, saying look over here, look over here, and look over here!”
Martin has worked in Oakland with Get Screened Oakland, a mayoral initiative that encourages testing.
The showing is also a kick-off of a year-long calendar of events of two merging groups: the Bay Area Treatment Advocacy Network (BTAN) and the Bay Area Regional African American HIV/AIDS State of Emergency Coalition (BARAASEC).The two groups are joining forces to advance HIV treatment in the Black community and to ensure that the community is prepared to participate in the treatment process.
Whether watching “End Game” online or at the community conversation, activists have been at this for 30 years, and they are at a different point in the evolution of the crisis. Now is the time to be talking about the “End Game.”
“End game: AIDS in Black America” and an intimate conversation with the community, will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the New Parkway Theatre, 474 24th St. in Oakland.
To purchase tickets for $10, go to Spectrumfilm012013.eventbrite.com or call (510) 575-8245.