THE SILENT KILLER IN THE U.S.
�OUT OF CONTROL: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA�
ON A SPECIAL EDITION OF �PRIMETIME�
THURSDAY, AUGUST 24 ON ABC
Reported by Terry Moran with a special segment featuring Peter Jennings
While the world marked the 25th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS this summer, one important story in the epidemic was largely ignored ---until now.
�OUT OF CONTROL: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA� is the first national network television news documentary on the AIDS epidemic among African Americans--- an epidemic that is spreading fast, but that has attracted little consistent attention from leaders in public health, politics, or religion. Terry Moran reports on the crisis in a special edition of �Primetime� on on THURSDAY, AUGUST 24 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Included in the report is a group interview conducted by Peter Jennings shortly before his cancer diagnosis. Jennings, who played a significant role in conceptualizing the program, speaks with a group of HIV positive African American men in Atlanta who are remarkably candid about the harsh realities of dealing with AIDS in Black America.
Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population but account for over 50% of all new cases of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. That infection rate is eight times the rate of whites. Among women, the numbers are even more shocking--- almost 70% of all newly diagnosed HIV positive women in the U.S. are Black women. Black women are 23 times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than white women, with heterosexual contact being the overwhelming method of infection in Black America.
�In America today, AIDS is virtually a Black disease, by any measure,� says Phill Wilson, Executive Director of The Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. Wilson also points out that while many Black American leaders and celebrities have embraced the cause of the epidemic�s toll in Africa, few have devoted similar energy to the crisis here at home.
In interviews with AIDS activists, doctors, and people on the front lines of the epidemic, �OUT OF CONTROL: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA� paints a sobering and shocking portrait of the disease, and the failure of leadership that has allowed the epidemic to spiral into a crisis in small towns and inner cities across the country.
Terry Moran talks to experts in several key areas about what contributes to the spread of AIDS in Black America, including the disproportionate number of Black men in prison. Prisons have AIDS infection rates five times higher than outside the walls, and many men go into prison HIV negative and come out infected, often without knowing it.
�OUT OF CONTROL� also reports the results of studies from the Universities of Chicago and North Carolina which shed light on a complex reality that helps explain why heterosexual transmission among African Americans is so common: Black men are more than twice as likely as white men to have multiple female partners at the same time. Rates of all sexually transmitted diseases are higher among African Americans than other groups, and once those rates start to rise, says Dr. Jim Thomas of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, �It starts a cycle. Because now when a person goes to have sex with someone, the chances that the new partner is already infected are relatively high.�
And because homosexuality and bisexuality carry such a strong stigma in Black America, African American men may choose to hide their sexual orientation. Men who have sex with men, and then also have sex with women without necessarily telling their female partners about their male encounters, is another topic covered in back to back roundtable discussions led by Jennings and Moran. Black men and women talk openly for the first time about sexual patterns in Black America, denial, secrecy, and shame. �I know of few communities as conservative as the African American community, especially about sex,� says Debra Fraser-Howze, CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS in New York. �And when it comes to homosexuality, it�s a real problem. Nobody wants to talk about it.�
Moran also reports on the role of the Black Church, traditionally the most powerful source of political and social activism in Black America. Black churches have been silent on AIDS, says The Rev. Calvin Butts III, Senior Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. �When you see the numbers going up, you know you have not done enough,� he says. Elizabeth Arledge is the producer of �OUT OF CONTROL: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA� Kayce Freed Jennings is the Senior Producer; Tom Yellin is the Executive Producer.