World AIDS Day programming
There was a time when all our networks acknowledged December 1st. Now only Pay TV and the ABC seem to have taken time to remind us about World AIDS Day.
There was a time when World AIDS Day was acknowledged by all the networks with documentaries and music specials. Specials like Red, Hot and Blue or events hosted by Nelson Mandela dominated our screens. That was a time when awareness was championed by the wider media. In recent years it’s been left largely to pay television and SBS to mark the day. But falling on a Monday, even SBS doesn’t take time out this year from its most-cherished night of the week.
The ABC comes to the rescue tonight (9:40pm) with a Compass special Six Days in August. Without having previewed this documentary, I note the publicity indicates it looks at the HIV AIDS pandemic in South Africa. In the city of Durban, which hosted the International AIDS Conference six years ago, one in three people are positive. Six Days in August follows the women of Durban, notably a 12-year-old who thinks her mother died because witch doctors were jealous of her, plus an HIV positive mother of seven. Sadly, men in Durban say that having unprotected sex is like eating a banana unpeeled, while taxi drivers wait outside a school with alcohol gifts for naive teenage girls.
There are also several relevant shows programmed by the W Channel on Monday, December 1: talk show host Rachael Ray chats to Jake Glaser, son of Elizabeth and actor Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky & Hutch). Jake talks about growing up HIV positive and carrying on the legacy of his late mother. Later, an Oprah episode includes Magic Johnson, 15 years after his diagnosis. Extreme Makeover Home Edition features a family with two adopted sons living with HIV, who get a Domestic Blitz–style renovation.
W Channel and the ABC both re-screen the excellent doco Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague, a look at how the Sydney gay community aggressively tackled the onslaught of HIV AIDS in the 80s – socially, politically and medically. This is a comprehensive essay of a campaign that was envied the world over. It airs at 7.30pm on W and 11:25pm on ABC.
MTV, which has always had a strong history of event-programming for World AIDS Day, has a music special, Staying Alive 2008 at 2:30pm. TEN also screens a Staying Alive special presented by Kelly Rowland but not until 1:25am on Saturday December 13. Disappointing.
December 1st aside, television still has a long way to go with representation and awareness of HIV/AIDS.