Policymakers, Advocates, Providers, Researchers Gather to 'Shine the Light' on HIV/AIDS in the Rural South during AIDS 2012

Washington, D.C. –The American Institutes for Research (AIR) will host an evening of reflection, discussion and engagement to shine the light on HIV/AIDS in the American rural South, as more than 25,000 service providers, advocates, policy makers and researchers are convened in Washington, D.C. for the International AIDS Conference (IAC). More than 150 guests will gather for Shine the Light!, featuring the premiere of deepsouth, a poignant documentary that showcases women and men living with and fighting HIV in the rural south. deepsouth explores the intersection of poverty, race, class, education, justice, stigma and access to affordable, quality and compassionate care, and reveals broader social and political themes that affect this region in crisis. MAC AIDS Fund provided additional support for this program.

The Southern AIDS Coalition, a partnership of government representatives, corporations and community advocates, will release a new report, The Southern States Manifesto: Update 2012, which provides an analysis of the current complex issues associated with HIV in the South.

Following the screening, David Holtgrave, Ph.D., a nationally recognized HIV prevention research leader and Chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will lead a discussion, along with deepsouth director Lisa Biagiotti. Dr. Holtgrave and Ms. Biagiotti will be joined by a diverse panel including Thomas Dobbs, MD, an infectious disease doctor in Mississippi; Wayne Duffus, MD, the Medical Director, HIV/STD Division of the South Carolina Department of Health; Julia Galdo, health communications expert with AIR; Kathie Hiers, CEO at AIDS Alabama; Monica Johnson, founder, HEROES in Louisiana; Carolyn McAllaster, founder and director of the AIDS Legal Project and a Clinical Professor of Law at the Duke University School of Law; Michael Murphree, executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition; Pernessa C. Seele, CEO and founder of Balm in Gilead, and Miriam Vega, vice president of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

“AIR is proud to host Shine the Light!, featuring the powerful documentary deepsouth,” says Marilyn Moon, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Director of AIR’s Health Program. “We’re pleased to support this provocative forum whose goal is to spark a dialogue among a range of people with a rich range of perspectives. We hope this spurs further research and action to truly trigger change. Our support is aligned with our mission: to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and most vulnerable populations.”

Also as part of the evening’s program, AIR and its partner Commetric – a communications, media and influencer analysis company – will share a brief analysis of the last two years’ media coverage seeking to gain insight into the general level of awareness, consciousness or association of HIV to the issues of income, healthcare, race, poverty, homophobia, stigma, child molestation and incarceration.

For more information on Shine the Light!, visit www.air.org.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. AIR’s Health Program is a leader in the health communication and social marketing field, with an unparalleled understanding of and experience in health education and promotion, disease prevention, and a broad range of communications initiatives at the national, state, and local levels that improve people’s lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged. For more information, visit www.air.org/health.

About deepsouth
'deepsouth' is a poetic and grounding exploration into the lives of those affected by HIV in the American South. After 30 years, the global epidemic has overshadowed the fight at home, where HIV has never looked like this before. Facing a broken health system and a culture of denial, southerners must create their own solutions to survive. A young, black gay man tries to escape his past and the heavy judgment of the Mississippi Delta; two best friends and their DIY community prepare for an annual HIV retreat in rural Louisiana; and, an Alabama activist spends 120 days on the road fighting for equitable resources. Intermixed in these main story lines are several mini-stories that reveal broader social and political themes across the rural South.

The premiere will take place at tonight’s Shine the Light! event, followed by public screenings at the Landmark E Street Cinemas in Washington, DC July 24 at 7 p.m. and July 25 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information visit: http://deepsouthfilm.com.


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