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'Countdown to Zero': The Epic Quest to End AIDS Now On HBO

'Countdown to Zero': The Epic Quest to End AIDS Now On HBO


Could HBO's Vice Special Report: Countdown to Zero move Americans' knowledge about HIV into the 21st Century?

Vice Special Report: Countdown to Zero premiered on HBO Tuesday, December 1st. The HIV documentary delves into the search for a cure and/or HIV vaccine and features a wide range of policymakers, activists, researchers and patients on the quest for an AIDS-free world, including Bono, President George Bush and the "Berlin Patient," Timothy Brown the first person ever cured of HIV (read why his case hasn't led to a cure here). 

It’s a little disconcerting that this is Vice, the same folks that brought us segments like "The Mobile Love Factory,” “School Girls For Sale in Japan” and “Getting High With a Hallucinogenic Toad Prophet.” On the other hand, they also did a Season 3 special report on “Killing Cancer.”

Hosted by Vice founders and correspondents Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, Countdown to Zero is polished and gets a lot right in covering HIV and the efforts to end AIDS. And Vice certainly can't be accused of not bringing enough gravitas to the topic. 

Is there some sensationalism? Heck, yeah. But that has its own advantages. Presenting the fight against AIDS like a epic quest, complete with the cinematography and dramatic score befitting a Hollywood blockbuster; can’t be a bad thing. If Charlie Sheen’s coming out as HIV-positive has taught us nothing else it’s that Americans’ knowledge about HIV is stuck in another decade—if not another century. Vice’s Special Report on HIV could help move that audience into the 21st Century.

Watch the trailer below or catch the whole show on HBO or HBO NOW and HBO GO.

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Jacob Anderson-Minshall