PBS’ FRONTLINE – ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America
infected an estimated 34 million people worldwide and killed more than 30 million.
But from the beginning, something was missing: The bulletin said nothing about race. While the first five patients reported to the CDC were white, the next two were black, recalls Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who saw those first patients in Los Angeles.
It was the beginning of what would become a massive epidemic, and for blacks in America, one that killed its victims in secret. “[A]s the disease grew and grew and grew and grew, we tended to ignore it and pay no attention to it, or to think it was something that didn’t affect anybody that we knew, and therefore not a matter of concern for us,” Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, tells FRONTLINE in the film. “Which is foolish, and criminal even, but nonetheless I think that was pretty much the attitude.”
FRONTLINE explores how HIV has permeated the community. Racism and homophobia have played roles in the spread of the disease, but so have religion, poverty and politics. It’s a complex mix, and the result is troubling: African Americans today make up half of all new infections in the U.S. But there’s also hope for ending the epidemic, something that didn’t seem possible 30 years ago when it began.
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