There was a time in the early 1990s when World AIDS Day was acknowledged by all our television networks, with programming to match: documentaries, concerts, specials, Red Hot & Blue….
In recent years it was mostly confined to Pay Television to fight the good fight.
Today, December 1st, it is the public broadcasters that mark the occasion. SBS ONE screens a documentary on the life of Richard Berkowitz (pictured), a gay S&M-hustler-turned-AIDS activist in the 1980s.
Berkowitz’s incomparable contribution to the invention of safe sex has never been aptly credited.
Berkowitz emerged from the epicentre of the epidemic as a community leader, demanding a solution to the problem before anyone else would pay attention.
However, it was not Berkowitz’ voice alone that sparked contention. Dr Joseph Sonnabend, a controversial virologist and AIDS doctor, postulated that AIDS was more complicated than just a new virus. With Sonnabend’s theory in tow, Berkowitz fought, alongside beloved activist and musician Michael Callen, for safer sex practices without giving up on sex altogether.
It airs at 10pm tonight on SBS ONE.
Meanwhile ABC1 repeats a Compass special at 11:10pm with Six Days in August, which looks at the impact of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa and the impact it is having on families.