As part of the Week Against Homophobia running from the 5th to the 11th April Side by Side has organized a Special Event focusing on the issue of HIV and Aids. Side by Side will be screening the critically acclaimed two part documentary HIV & Me written and presented by Stephen Fry. The documentary makes tough but compelling viewing as he investigates the contemporary world of HIV and Aids today.
Part 1 of the documentary looks at the rise of the disease in the early 1980’s when little was known about Aids or how to treat it. While the disease has largely disappeared from headlines, and drugs to stem its progress are available in some communities, the number of new infections worldwide is increasing. Many of the infected are unaware they are positive. In the first half of this engaging, moving and shocking documentary, Fry delves into the reasons behind the rise in new infections and meets a range of people who talk candidly about living with HIV.
Part 2 of the documentary, Fry meets experts to discuss how effective the new treatments are, meets "salvage patients", for whom none of the drugs now work and visits Uganda to find out why drugs are unavailable there.
He also takes an HIV test and meets 21-year-old Kate, who was born with the virus, having contracted it from her mother. Although the drugs have kept Kate alive, they have not been easy to take. But recent medical advances have allowed Kate to have an HIV-free child. Fry also meets Perry, an HIV-positive man who has become a father twice through a process known as "sperm-washing".
Fry discovers that, although medically things have improved for people with HIV, the prejudice remains - with many still subject to verbal and physical abuse. Worldwide, the stigma associated with HIV is pervasive, something many cite as a factor in widespread ignorance.
A message from Stephen Fry to the Saint Petersburg Audience
It gives me such pleasure to be able to write in support of this very important initiative. I visited St Petersburg last year and it instantly became one of my favourite cities in the whole wide world. It does sadden me though when my friends, followers and fans from Russia tell me that HIV/AIDS is still such a hidden horror in Russia.
HIV is a virus that makes progress in the dark. The less people talk about it, the more people are afraid to be open about it, the more people run away from it ... the more powerful and pervasive it is.
My very best love to you all in St Petersburg - I wish I could be with you for this event, which is so important and so necessary.
from your friend