SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A new film released by the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco chronicles the personal stories of Black Americans who’ve fought HIV/AIDS, according to a press release.
“The Black Community & AIDS” also focuses on the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on Black Americans. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in two Black men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus in their lifetimes.
“My grandmother used to say, ‘When white people get a cold, black people get pneumonia,’” Phil Wilson, the founder of the Black AIDS Institute, says in the documentary film, which can be viewed on YouTube. “And so I thought…if white people are getting the plague, what in the hell are we going to get?”
The National AIDS Memorial has come out with six other films as part of its oral history project, according to the press release from the organization that runs the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, the only federally-designated memorial to those who’ve died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
The memorial is also the custodian of the AIDS Quilt, a 54-ton memorial and the largest piece of community folk art in the world.
Other oral histories have focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the transgender community, women, people with hemophilia and substance users and people in recovery.
“This mini-documentary speaks to the work of the National AIDS Memorial in addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Black community and the issues of stigma, discrimination and otherism that still exist today, four decades into this epidemic,” John Cunningham, the memorial’s chief executive, stated in the press release. “We are so appreciative to the survivors and advocates featured in this film who shared their stories and whose work is helping make a difference in changing the statistics and helping to finally curb the disproportionate impact of this epidemic in the Black community.”
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The film was featured at several film festivals and HIV/AIDS events, such as San Francisco’s Frameline. It was produced and directed by Jörg Fockele, and major funding was provided by the Chevron Corporation.
“To talk about HIV in the Black community in present day, you have to really look at the history of HIV and Black people,” activist Tori Cooper stated in the press release. “Black people have been villainized and stigmatized around not just having an HIV diagnosis but as being pushers of the virus. That stigma that was perpetuated 40 years ago still exists and still impacts the way society thinks about people who are living with HIV.”
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