This film is about the global AIDS situation. The film starts in Europe and the United States and ends up in Zimbabwe and Uganda. It tells about the global disparities of drug access, but also about the successful HIV and AIDS responses of Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda.
Millions of people will be wiped out by this disease.
Everybody should get a cure, no matter what,
if they're poor or rich.
Dying over two minutes of orgasm.
It's not worth it.
We're here to show them that we're not
going to put up with the discrimination anymore.
When you actually see a person who has AIDS,
you wouldn't even know.
I know that I've got HIV.
That I'll die from AIDS sometime.
I feel sad to see them suffering with such a dreadful disease.
Use a condom.
Don't share needles.
But you never know because this threat is always there.
AIDS is death.
Looking back on it now, from the days when I first
started covering this AIDS epidemic in 1981,
when we numbered perhaps a few thousand cases of AIDS,
there's been a total change in the picture
throughout the world.
The United Nations' AIDS organization estimates today
that approximately 30 million people in the world
are living either infected by the AIDS virus
or suffering from AIDS itself.
Of those 30 million, 20 million people
are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Another 10 million people in the countries of Asia.
And in the Western world, 1,350,000-
That's an unacceptable disparity.
And what about cost?
The cost of AIDS patients in the Western world is huge.
It's $20,000 to $30,000 a year.
And in the third world, in the developing countries,
$5 to $10-
And that's all.
That's completely unacceptable.
People have to learn in this country
that it's not a gay disease.
Most people still think that.
And we need to educate ourselves and educate everyone else.
Thinking of AIDS, I do fear it very greatly.
And I think that's why it divides people.
It's like a whole new race of people or a whole new religion.
People who have AIDS, they're alone in the world.
And they're being divided from everyone else.
When was the last time you went to the ophthalmologist, John?
I think I saw Dorothy about two weeks ago.
And I see her every four months now.
Can you breathe in and out for me?
So three years ago, when I ended up sick in the hospital,
I sort of thought that that might
have been my turn because I had watched
one friend after another get progressively sick and die.
But I was just very lucky that I didn't get sick until the time
that I did.
And at that point, protease inhibitors
were just around the corner.
And new medication dosing and knowledge
about how to work the medications
was right around the corner.
Your viral load has jumped up again a little bit
to about 28,000 copies.
T-cells are 52, which is still a big difference than when
you were zero.
A lot better since zero.
You know, clearly, you're an experienced patient.
We know that.
And you have resistance then to most of the nucleosides,
all of the non-nucleosides, and most of the proteases.
And you should go with a new combination.
The combination that I'd like you to do is Norvir Crixivan.
Norvir is the one that you've talked to me about before.
And I said, I don't want to go back on that.
It was horrible.
It killed my appetite.
You've had worse side effects than that.
I mean, I just didn't want to look at food anymore
or smell food.
And I've been down to 100 pounds.
So I know what that's like.
I don't want to go back there.
And it's important to me to have an appetite
and be able to eat well and have energy.
I don't know what's going to happen to John.
My best hope is that whatever you know tricks
we do with his medications now, being somebody who's
used up pretty much everything, that we'll make it
to the next stage, that we'll make it
to where there are some new medications available for him.
But I don't know.
He could have a few good years.
He could have a normal lifespan.
And I really at this point for somebody
like him have just no idea.
Hopefully, in five years from now I'll be healthy
and I will be making lots of art.
And it will be being exhibited and viewed.
About 6 o'clock in the morning I get up and take [INAUDIBLE].
Early in the day, I'll take two of the Crixivan,
2-5 milliliters of the At the end of the day,
I take three [OVERLAPPING SPEECH].
Twice a day I take Combivir, which is
the AZT [OVERLAPPING SPEECH].
While you take that, you have to also take-- sodium levels
have gone down, [INAUDIBLE].
Those are just [OVERLAPPING SPEECH] to help
with digestion. [INAUDIBLE] for herpes virus.
I came home from my pharmacy one day
with a small bag of medications, but they
were very expensive ones.
And I decided to add them up.
So I took my receipts on each of them and got on my calculator.
And I said, my god, I brought home more than $5,000
worth of drugs for me today in one day.
Given the list of medications that John's on, probably
his medical care is running somewhere between $30,000
and $50,000 a year I would imagine.
Something totally out of reach for most of the world.
Everybody who has got the disease we
should make sure that they are provided with whatever
it is that they need to be able to survive and take
care of themselves.
One of my friends have AIDS.
And he's gone already, god bless him.
But everybody have-- there's life.
It's just sad to see all these people dying around
you that should still be here.
They're young people.
It's touched me.
That's hard for me to talk about it
because I get emotional because I've lost some really
good friends from it.
It's really sad.
I don't talk about it a lot.
Funny you should be here.
I'm talking about it now.
Homosexuals have many sexual partners, at least 100 a year.
And some of them claim to have 1,000, 2000-
Now something's got to go.
Can't do that.
You're breaking the laws of nature.
They know that.
I think we really sit at a very crucial point here
and in Europe too.
I think that in so many of our countries
we're dealing on the one hand with a right wing that's
resurgent, that wants to stigmatize people.
It doesn't like gay people.
It doesn't want to deal with the real issues of IV drug use.
And it does this whole family stuff
and really ignores the real issues of where
people's lives are like.
And doesn't want to give real education, clear messages,
anything like that.
And on the other hand we're dealing with an epidemic that
will take advantage of every chance you give it to grow.
What you're saying is you've decided
you've had enough of these medications.
You were fed up with taking them every day
on a regular schedule.
And you wanted a drug holiday.
It's very exhausting after a while.
And you'll develop a resistance.
Your virus just wants to continue to grow.
That's all it wants to do.
An organization in California called Project Inform.
This is the Project Inform HIV treatment information hotline.
How can I help you?
Most of our effort continues to be
about educating patients and physicians on how
to treat the disease.
And I think that work is perhaps more important than ever.
There are many treatments available today, but how to use
them is more complicated than it has ever been.
If people don't take all the pills every day
as they're supposed to they can develop
what's called resistance.
And that means the virus can mutate and not
be able to be killed by the drug anymore.
And the viral load can, in fact, go up.
Some people do have an alarm system
or like a pill box with a buzzer, a timer on it.
I'm very afraid of AIDS.
It's something that has been around my life a lot.
I have a lot of family members that passed away on it.
And something serious to me.
I don't take it as a joke as many people do
or joke about it.
It's something that is hard to think about.
I think things will turn worse.
I think we will, in the future, look back
at this moment as in the early part of this epidemic
one of the best moments because two things are
likely to happen.
One, we have a number of patients,
the majority of our patients in our clinic,
are not able to maintain control of their virus.
They've been too heavily treated.
They've waited too long.
Or more commonly, they can't take the drugs
as they're prescribed.
It's just too difficult.
And especially for our patients who are homeless,
who are using injection drugs, who
have severe problems with alcohol, who have
other psychiatric problems.
Their virus is still present.
And their virus is becoming more resistant to the drugs.
So even though they're doing well now,
even though their T-cells are doing well now,
it really probably can't last.
And so we would expect that this will still
prove to be a fatal disease for the vast majority of people
And so in another five years or another 10 years,
we would think that most of these people
will still be progressing and dying of AIDS the way
they used to five or 10 years ago.
Personally, I find that AIDS is a scary reality.
That right now it's happening everywhere in the world.
It used to be what started from small
became so big that we must be really careful in our society
I happen to be HIV positive.
And actually, I was diagnosed in July of this year.
And I had a relationship with a woman
who unbeknownst to me she was prostituting herself.
And we were having unprotected sex.
Of course, when the epidemic began in 1981
in the United States, its impact was primarily
on young, gay, white men.
Today, that's completely shifted.
Today, the focus is heavily on young African-American men
and women in poor communities where unemployment, poverty,
disease are most strongly felt.
What do you think as an American to see this here
in South Bronx?
It's very shame.
It's a shame to see persons.
And they have to get rid of this drug problem.
They have to solve it some.
It's a shame.
It's ruined the whole generation, all the young kids.
It's ruined them.
They don't even want to go to school.
They don't want to do nothing, but just
to hang out in the drugs here and take the drugs.
What do you think about AIDS and the young kids that
are prostitutes here?
They are at risk all the time.
Nobody's really safe.
But you can make it as safe as you can.
I know I do.
I'm scared of it.
I'm scared to death of it.
I'm afraid to go to the doctor one day and find out
I do got it.
That would crush for me for everything
I've ever wanted to do.
Do the men that go with you, they
want you to have without a condom?
I always press the issue though.
I say, look man, you know, you're paying for this,
but I got to watch for my safety.
I said, your money ain't going to save my life.
What about drugs?
Do you take much?
Yeah, I did a lot of drugs.
I started off I was smoking weed.
Then I went up to PCP.
You know, I snorted speed, cocaine, smoking crack.
I've done it all.
Do you take part in the street fighting?
I got shot before.
I got stabbed right here.
I got shot here in the leg.
I've been through it all.
I've shot at people.
I've stabbed people.
It's all a part of being out here on the streets man.
Only the strong survive.
Don't you like to get out of here?
Yeah, get out of here.
One of these days I'm going to get out of here.
When, I don't know.
But my time will come just like everybody else.
What made AIDS change the world?
Our parents, when they were young, they were using condoms,
but it was to prevent birth.
Now, the problem is we're using them to prevent death.
So I think it's not only a problem of condoms,
I think it's a problem in the mentality
to change the mentality to become more
like romance, like love, like truly like deep relations,
and not only just sex every where.
At my age, it's very difficult because no one,
no boy wants to use condoms.
They say, I don't care.
I don't need it.
But it's difficult to be really concerned when you have anyone
around you who has no AIDS.
You don't know anyone with AIDS?
So I don't feel really concerned.
I know it exists, but I don't know.
We have been able to face actually
the most difficult topics that people actually talk about.
HIV is about sex.
It's about death and dying.
It's about threats of many different kinds.
We have to talk about narcotics and drug abuse.
We have to talk about racism.
We have to talk about women's right.
We actually have to talk about abortion.
You have all these difficult questions that
is usually very hard to handle.
It's all built into system.
And doing HIV work, you just have to face it.
That's what I've learned.
South Africa is witnessing an explosive epidemic.
That's probably the best description.
We have a very high rate of prevalence of the infection.
In other words, there are a lot of people who have it.
And there are a lot of people who are getting infected.
The number of new infections in this country
are estimated at about 1,000 each day.
So you're looking at an epidemic that is growing very rapidly.
I was diagnosed in '95-
You know, I went for an TB test.
And it was because one of my family members had TB.
So you know, The whole family was prepared to go for TB.
So in South Africa, if they test you for TB,
they'll test for HIV as well.
I was tested for HIV.
I had no TB, but I was found to be HIV positive.
I cannot tell when I was actually infected.
But I mean, I think I was infected sexually
because I was sexually active.
The epidemic is being driven mainly by a very high incidence
rates of HIV in young women.
In one community, for example, we
estimated that the incidence rate was about 24% per year.
That means that about one out of four young women in that age
group gets infected in that year.
I'm with another partner now who's HIV negative.
We are happy together.
I mean, he's negative.
He knows my status.
We talk a lot.
And you know, he knows that I'll die some time.
But life is going on.
In South Africa and many other African countries,
they have a migrant labor system where men and women
leave their homes and go off to work
in peri-urban or urban areas.
And because they are away from their home for such
a long time, especially the men, they
go to prostitutes for their sexual satisfaction.
Truck drivers do not like to use condoms.
They believe that the word they use is flesh to flesh.
They would pull off to the side of the road
and flash their lights.
And from somewhere all these women
would appear out of the bushes and stand
in the light of the truck.
And this guy will make his selection
like in a shopping market.
Women that have sex with condoms are not
paid as much as those women who have sex without condoms.
The guys that mess around that don't care who they sleep with
and where they go, I've got no sympathy for them.
In the townships, I think that there
is a great deal that is happening,
that is being done by the people in the townships themselves.
But at an official level, I don't
believe that there is terribly much that is taking place.
My biggest fear at present around the epidemic
is that it is going to become nothing
but a political football.
And that it's going to sway to and fro in the political arena
where cheap point scoring is going
to be the name of the game, and very little sustain
that input is going to be put into this epidemic.
HIV is here.
And it's impacting on us.
And it's high time that young people take responsibility
and protect themselves.
And I think they must also learn and personalize
that young people are HIV positive
and try to be part of the solution to the AIDS problem.
They shouldn't be seen as the problem.
The situation around HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe I think
is at this stage where it's terrible.
We have studies on pregnant women.
And for every four pregnant women in Zimbabwe, one of them
is HIV infected.
And in other areas, it's as bad as one out of two,
which would be 50%.
And these are areas where they are high trade routes,
like the big lorries that go to South Africa or to Zambia.
It's difficult working in this epidemic to be optimistic.
Because the reality is so much suffering, so many deaths.
I'm not a defeatist.
I do think there's action we can take.
I do think it's worthwhile.
And I do think we can't stop the epidemic,
but we can reduce the ultimate level it will reach.
And I think that's a very well worthwhile goal.
This particular farm we are on has 410 people.
That means that because we have so many workers
we have lots of things to deal with, basically,
health and education.
We have lots of babies dying.
Often it's not diagnosed as being AIDS.
Maybe that baby is born fairly healthy.
And then when they get to sort of six to eight months on,
they're just not as healthy.
And then they just seem to peter out.
One of the comments that was made to me quite recently
by an older person was we're going
to die one day so I'm not going to take
any protection against AIDS.
I'm going to die anyway.
So if I die in two years time, that's fine.
Whereas I feel this age group, these
are the people that I really hope we can educate.
I've slightly given up on the older group.
Projections suggest that around 1/3
of all children in the country will eventually be orphaned.
Now, potentially, that's an enormously unstabling factor
for the country as a whole.
It's very serious in human terms,
social terms for those children.
And if they grow up poorly socialized,
unable to go to school, without good care,
without ability to develop self-esteem,
skills, and so on, that sort of number
potentially means a massive destabilizing factor
for society as a whole.
From an economic point of view only, all of the skill areas
will become increasingly problematic
with high labor turnover, increasing costs of training,
recruitment, and of course, the loss of institutional memory
and experience, which you can't replace.
The cost of benefits will go up.
Productivity will go down.
The capacity to pay for the increased costs will go down.
So while the needs are going up, the capacity to deal with them
will be reduced.
I don't think we have yet to really grasp
the full scale of what the long term impacts are likely to be.
There's no precedent in recent history
of this type of incremental escalating
death in the productive sector and among parents.
The health department doesn't say, if somebody dies,
they don't put on the death certificate
that they died of AIDS.
It's always TB or cancer or something else.
I don't know why they try to keep this a secret.
And I frankly believe that it must
be brought out in the open.
In Zimbabwe, polygamy is very common.
As soon as I discovered that my husband was
interested in more than one wife,
I decided to pull away due to fear of AIDS.
Otherwise, I was supposed to stay there traditionally
and just try always to cope.
But I've discovered that many wives are dying innocent.
The three of my female friends they
died after giving birth to their second borns.
The third borns they were positive.
And it's like the child died first,
the mother, then the father.
I think my energy really comes from being a women's activist.
And then because I'm a journalist, when I then
worked in HIV/AIDS, I then saw a lot
of what I call human rights violations for women
around issues of HIV.
And because when you sit and you watch violations
you don't want to close your eyes and go to sleep.
You want to fight, and you want to make a difference.
And among all the sadness I think you also get some joy,
especially when you work with young girls.
And you realize what the potential is in getting a young
girl into an empowered woman who cannot only say no to sex when
she doesn't want it, but who would also make a decision
about what kind of relationship she'd want and how she'll be
able to assert her rights.
In Uganda, we have noticed a slight decrease, if not
leveling, of new infections coming up.
How many of you think from now on until you're
married you'll be able to keep away from girls
and have no sexual relations?
I don't think I can manage.
Because whenever I see a pretty girl, I forget all about it.
I think the success story of Uganda and HIV
and AIDS depends so much on this top political commitment.
Because at the right time it has already late,
but I think our president came out
early enough to tell everybody, hey, we have a problem.
We have to do something about the problem.
This affects everybody.
Whereas, from what I know, other countries in Africa
up to now deny having a problem as big as that.
TASO, which is an AIDS support organization, actually looking
after people who have AIDS, with the kind
of support system which is being built up in the country.
There is less stigma, less discrimination,
and people are more curious if not they're not so worried
to find out their sero-status.
The government has done a big job
of setting up different testing units of testing facilities.
So more people come up, get to know their status,
and they know that if I get to know my status
and I am HIV positive, I know where to go for services.
We are actually Jimpunda Kakuuto, Rakai district.
More than 50 families are child headed.
They have relatives, but they can't support them
because they are also not wealth.
And the majority of the parents of these children
have died of AIDS.
We have visited a home of Lubowa.
He died of AIDS.
He left his six children there without somebody
to look after them.
They are just on their own.
The older child of Lubowa is the one responsible for the family.
Her name is Kevin.
She's 14 years old.
She said they have been living alone since 1993-
She said that what is a problem is that she comes late
And she hardly has time to dig food for the others.
So they only work over the weekend.
And as you can see, the garden what they have
is hardly enough for you consider food she
has prepared for seven of them.
It is so little.
She says right now they have a problem of their house.
The house is leaking.
It is almost falling on them.
The brother dropped out of school after frustration
when their parents died.
So for her, she says she wants to pursue education and help
these other young ones.
But the problem with the secondary education it
You have to pay for tuition in secondary education.
After primary, she's not sure whether she'll
go on with her secondary, though that is her dream.
In Uganda, we're talking about a generation that could grow up
without a solid identity.
And if you don't have a solid identity,
there is very little you can do.
Most people-- they have land, but they don't
have the energy to go and dig.
There is a decrease event in the coffee production and so many
other cash crop productions because
the productive population in Raqqa
is practically non-existent.
Most of them have died.
And that's not only Raqqa, but in most villages in Uganda.
And the agriculture is in the villages.
HIV and AIDS has shown the whole world
that the woman is in a very vulnerable position.
HIV and AIDS has shown the whole world, even more than the world
wars, that we have to do something about human rights.
We have to do something about humanity.
And we have to become human again.
Considering that the epidemic really
began in Thailand in 1987, and now we have a situation of one
in 60 people are infected with HIV, about a million people,
and still counting, you can imagine
this is a devastating effect on any country.
Now, also, the profile of the disease has changed.
Originally, gay men and injecting drug users.
Now, the disease can affect anybody.
The effect on the economy is huge,
particularly as those often affected
are the people who earn the income, who earn the salary,
or who look after the children in society.
When I see a very young patient die with AIDS,
it's a very sad story.
But I can't do much for them.
But in a new generation as a whole,
we need to teach them how to be more responsible for their sex
And to teach them what AIDS is like.
And to prevent this sad story not to happen again.
Do you have any questions?
For example, sir, I had sex with a boy for the first time.
Can I get AIDS?
And get the virus?
You should know, first and foremost,
that AIDS does not have a cure.
There are only two options left in order to prevent AIDS.
You must use the condom because that's
a very preventive measure.
Second, you must be able to have only one partner
and stick to that partner.
Because having multiple sexual partners,
you're not sure whether they have AIDS or not.
Chances are you might get AIDS without knowing it.
A very encouraging factor about Thailand
is compared with many other governments,
Thailand's government has in fact
been prepared to acknowledge this problem of HIV/AIDS.
And has taken specific steps to try and arrest
the disease or related diseases.
For example, the pioneering work of Dr. Mechai with his condom
program has proven to be highly effective in this country
and serves as a model for many other in the region.
Started Using condom as a main element in public education.
Said don't be embarrassed by it.
It's just from a rubber tree.
If you are embarrassed by the condom,
you must be more embarrassed by the tennis ball
because there's more rubber in it.
So it's great.
It's got lubrication for after shave lotion.
You can use it as a balloon.
You can use it as a tourniquet for snake bites and deep cuts.
You can use the ring at the end for a headband.
It's a wonderful product.
Why be shy?
Right now, we have to be realistic
that while certain advances in science, medical science,
has occurred, the benefits will not
accrue to the majority of people in the world
because they are poor.
It just simply costs too much.
So we still have to be open and honest
and provide education to the majority of the people.
And at the same time, equally importantly,
is to let the people understand that compassion is probably
one of the best fights against AIDS, not discrimination,
In 1992, I study Hospice Project in this temple.
I asked for some money from the government
and start the Hospice Project.
Now, we have more than 200 patients stay in this temple.
But more than 10,000 patients wait
for bed because we have enough bed for them here.
We have a doctor.
We have a nurse who can give them some medicine.
But most of our work we like to look after them
for die peacefully.
The highest happy for me is when somebody die peacefully
in my hand.
I think that when they die with me
they told me that I am only one in his mind
only one in the world for their life that is my happiness.
The young generation is more prone to AIDS
because they are the risk staking stage.
They have unsafe sex many times.
And then they are more prone to AIDS.
But they are the ones which will find the cure for AIDS
in future, because today's younger generation will
be tomorrow's future.
And they're going to the young scientists
who are going to find the cure.
India, we have almost seven to eight million HIV infections.
And in Bombay City, 250,000 HIV positive people.
By now, almost 70% of the sex workers in Bombay
are HIV positive.
And out of the sex workers which are covered
in our program, Saheli Project, almost 42% of them
are infected with HIV.
The possibility of decreasing HIV infection
is there, only through multi-pronged strategies
where HIV/AIDS awareness program coupled
with condom distribution program,
with testing facilities and counseling and care.
Here is a man who has infected on his own through sex outside.
But however, his wife is always faithful.
His wife is not sleeping around with different men.
So here it would be epidemic only
being spread by the male clients of the sex workers
of the extramarital sex.
So it has to be a high level of political will
because HIV at our government level,
we should be have the participation of business
and personal society.
Each one of them should feel that it is their own problem.
It is not somebody else's problem.
Then only we can overcome some of the problems in HIV.
Otherwise, we are fighting a losing battle.
In Hong Kong, majority of people getting HIV infection
are through heterosexual and gay behavior.
Only a very minimal number have got through drug use.
The increasing number of people visiting China
told us they contracted HIV when they were in China.
And when they come back to Hong Kong, it's difficult for them
to share their experience and feeling with the family
members, even friends.
In China, it varies from different district to district.
There are increasing problem now because not all the authorities
are acknowledging the problems which is happening.
In the southern part, it's basically big cities
like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen,
these areas the sex industry is blooming.
And a lot of people getting infected
through visiting prostitution.
And in the Western part where Yunnan and Miami and also
Thailand, the drug use problem is increasing.
So people getting HIV through drug use and sharing needles
is actually increasing.
If nothing is done immediately it
will be like a ticking time bomb,
just like in Thailand 10 years ago.
The AIDS situation in Cambodia started with the first case
that we know in 1990-
And eventually, the projections were 120,000 people
for the year 2000-
So the figures right now are 40% of the commercial sex workers
are infected, 7% of military and police are infected,
and 3% of the pregnant women are infected.
Cambodia right now, as we see, has
one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia.
I think the women have an education session
in the market like is very important because people
start to hear about HIV/AIDS.
And right now in Cambodia, HIV/AIDS is very fast epidemic.
And especially among the youth and people around 18 to 35
it's a high risk group.
And sometimes they feel that they're brave enough.
They think that they don't get AIDS.
Used to see only, at the beginning,
men infected with AIDS.
And then eventually the number of women and men are similar.
And this year, we started to see children
infected with HIV/AIDS.
And we haven't start talking what
to do for children in Cambodia.
We tell them that hope is one of the most important things,
that even though perhaps they're going
to live two years or three years,
but if they start to care for themselves,
and they start to think about those around them who
also love them, they can prolong their lives.
And also they can be example with their lives
to teach about their own experience.
She started with a fever and intense shivering like malaria.
And she says when she was sick, they took her to hospital.
Because she was working in a brothel.
So the friends took her to the hospital.
If Cambodian people doesn't have any scheme for prevention
on HIV/AIDS epidemic right now, we
will have an other second killing field to our people.
When we think about an inequality
between the rich and the poor world, I feel very angry.
Because in the rich country, they
spend $25,000 per year for one AIDS patient.
And here, in [INAUDIBLE], we have only $10,
even less than $10, for an AIDS patient per year.
So it's not fair to people here in Phnom Penh.
I would like to suggest that no government in the third world,
developing world, expect the rich world to help us and solve
It's never happened.
It will not happen.
We have to fight our own AIDS battle
with the compassion that exists in our own society,
in our people.
And do whatever we can to let everyone
understand that compassion is the major tool against AIDS,
And I think that we can overcome AIDS
if every child is given a chance to understand
AIDS from a very young age.
Are you optimistic about the future?
I'm quite optimistic, but not really.