How We Lost the War Against AIDS

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Another Movie About AIDS

Why make another AIDS movie?  We’ve had several good ones:  And the Band Played On, Philadelphia, Dallas Buyers Club, a South African one that I particularly like, Life, Above All, and many others.  So why make another?  The main reason is that the AIDS epidemic has faded from the public consciousness.  For a variety of reasons, most people don’t think about AIDS much anymore.  Perhaps they think the war is already over, that the scientific and medical advances of the last few decades have solved the problem.  Perhaps they think that the epidemic only affects other people, people we don’t need to care about.  Perhaps it’s just fatigue, with other issues pushing AIDS aside.  Whatever the cause, the lack of attention and awareness may lead us to make some serious mistakes with some even more serious consequences.

The reality is that the war against AIDS is not over.  It could be over.  We have the tools and weapons we need, we just need to use them well.  But there’s a real danger that we won’t use our weapons well, and that as a result, we will lose the war.  A recent study by UNAIDS and The Lancet medical journal described two different future scenarios.  If we work a little harder, doing what we know how to do, then we can end AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030.  But if we don’t, then HIV and AIDS will come roaring back in the 2020s, and the epidemic could be worse than it ever was.  Tens of millions of people will needlessly die.  So one reason to make another AIDS movie is to raise the public consciousness, so that we all understand how are the stakes are.

The reason to make this movie now is the urgency with which we must act.  We are at a critical point in the epidemic.  What the world does in the next few years, and particularly what the United States does in the next twelve months, will set the stage for winning or losing the war against AIDS.  We could choose to strengthen our moral and financial leadership, re-committing to ending the AIDS epidemic.  Or we could choose to cut back on our commitment, putting many lives at risk, and effectively throwing away the very successful investments that have brought us close to victory in the war against AIDS.  I hope that this movie will help us choose wisely.