*Every 10 minutes, someone in the United States contracts the AIDS virus. Half of those affected are black.
Thirty years after the AIDS virus was first reported among gay white men, nearly half of the 1 million people in the United States infected with HIV are black men, women and children—even though blacks make up just 12.6 percent of the population.
“ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America,” premiering Tuesday, July 10 on PBS’s Frontline, takes viewers on a two-hour exploration of one of the country’s most urgent, most preventable health crises. Three years in the making, the documentary tells the story of how, from the earliest days, prejudice, silence and stigma allowed the virus to spread deep into the black community.
“If black America were a country, it would have the 16th highest infection rate in the world,” says Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute.
But how and why is HIV so much worse in black America? Can something be done—on a personal level, policy level or community level—to bring about an end to the epidemic?
The documentary includes interviews with basketball legend Magic Johnson; civil rights pioneer Julian Bond; leading doctors, health workers, educators and social activists working on the front lines of the crisis; and pastors around the country, many of whom have been divided on the response of the black church to the epidemic over the years.
The film allows people to tell their own stories, in their own voices. The film introduces people like Nel, a 63-year-old grandmother who married a deacon in her church and later found an HIV diagnosis tucked into his Bible. There’s the teenage rap duo Tom and Keith, who call themselves “Bornies,” children who were born with the virus in the early 1990s and survived after their mothers died; Jesse, who had to hide his sexuality because of homophobia in his church, community and family; and Jovanté, a high school football player who didn’t realize what HIV meant until it was too late.
As Phill Wilson, head of the Black AIDS Institute, tells it: “We’ve been at this for 30 years now. We are at a different point in the evolution of the crisis. We need to be talking about our endgame.”
The film is directed, produced and written by Renata Simone. Watch the trailer below.