Thirty Years Positive

In the Life addresses the last three decades of the fight against HIV and AIDS

Tonight, public television stations across the country, including WHYY, will begin airing 30 Years Positive, an episode of the award-winning documentary series In the Life that looks back on media coverage of the HIV/AIDS epidemic for the past three decades. The episode will also be available online in honor of World AIDS Day.

Thirty years after the first AIDS cases were reported in the United States, more than a million Americans are now HIV-positive. The most recent statistics report that one in five HIV-positive people in this country don’t even know their status, and that as many as 56,000 others are newly infected each year. But the mainstream media coverage about the disease has changed.

During the 1980s and 90s, issues of prevention, activism and a race for a cure was foremost in the headlines. But as scientific breakthroughs ushered in an era in which HIV-positive people can live happy, healthy lives on medication, the message seems to have changed. For those who are still on the battle front, this can be dangerous, especially as AIDS apathy creeps into many communities where infection rates are soaring.

“We’ve been able to stabilize the HIV epidemic – not stop, not reduce – stabilize,” says Marjorie J. Hill, PhD and CEO of GMHC, who appears in the episode along with actress Harmony Santana and many others – like the Reverend Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, who criticized the White House, saying, “I feel that President Obama needs to be called on HIV and AIDS just like President Bush needed to be called on it.”

Check it out: