Celebrity and activist panelists gathered together at SAG-AFTRA before World AIDS Day to discuss Hollywood’s efforts on educating audiences about HIV and AIDS. Even though many of them say TV and movies have done a wonderful job, they say a lot needs to be done to reach Black communities.
Hosted by SAG-AFTRA’s LGBT Committee and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the panel had actors, writers, and producers — all of them with firsthand knowledge of HIV or AIDS.
Tarell Alvin McCraney, playwright and storywriter for Moonlight, pointed out that nearly all films depicting the journey of HIV or AIDS were depictions of white people. His mother, who died of AIDS, used to say: “Illness is a part of the human condition and must be part of the way we tell human stories.”
As Plus previously reported, nearly half of all Black gay men will have HIV in their lifetime. Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who wrote some of the first articles identifying AIDS as a new disease in 1981, reminded the panel that 40 percent of new HIV infections are in the black community, which only make up 12 percent of the population.
Fellow storyteller and producer Neal Baer (ER, Law & Order), who featured more HIV storylines than any other producer in Hollywood agreed with McCraney, adding that the power of storytelling can provoke social change. Actress Jamie Pressly, whose uncle died of AIDS, said social stigma still exists and that Hollywood heavy hitters can bring awareness to communities who need education.
Watch the whole panel below: