Blood Brother:Ending the Stigma of HIV and AIDS
The documentary Blood Brother serves as a catalyst for ending the stigma of HIV and AIDS. The film follows the friendship of Steve and Rocky, two young men from Pittsburgh whose lives diverge when Rocky moves to India to work in an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. After Rocky spends three years in India, Steve goes to visit Rocky. He chronicles his intimate and candid journey on camera, immersing the viewer in a world where the sufferings of poverty, death, and sickness prevail. The film not only documents what it means to live with HIV/AIDS, but also highlights the stigmas around the disease, indigence in India, and the power of empathy.
While HIV is extremely common, there is a global ‘untouchables’ stigma for those who carry it. In Blood Brother, Rocky speaks about how the children are viewed as pariahs in their own country and how people from the all over the world are afraid to associate with those suffering from HIV/AIDS. Worldwide, 97% of HIV/AIDS victims live in low or middle class countries, most particularly in non-white parts of the world such as Asia and Africa. (Source)
In the United States, African Americans with HIV have dramatically higher death rates. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, “Black men with HIV and less than a 12th grade education have a death rate of 53 per 100,000 in the general population. For white men with a similar education, that rate is 5 per 100,000 and, for Hispanics, it’s 9 per 100,000.” (Source)
These statistics demonstrate that race and class may play a role in influencing the stigmas surrounding the disease. However, societal stigmas do not consider how lack of sexual education, contraception, homophobia and health care contribute to such high rates of HIV in poor communities. Which prompts the question: how can we disestablish judgements made against the people with this disease and focus more on improving methods for prevention and care?
Throughout the film, Steve and Rocky illustrate that despite their desire to help the children, they are not immune to the fear of contracting HIV. Rocky describes how the children can sense when visitors are clearly hesitant to interact with them and how this hesitation hurts them. Rocky overcomes his fear of the disease and works intimately with the children, going so far as to change their bandages and nurture them when they are on the brink of death. Although preventing yourself from infection while you care for the sick is an important concern, it is equally important to educate yourself on factual risks of contraction and ignore false truths surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Rocky demonstrates that every human deserves the right to be treated with care, compassion and love regardless of their health, class, gender, and/or race. He is a true role model for leading the movement of deconstructing the stigma of HIV/AIDS and shows that it is up to us, as global citizens, to stand up for an empathetic universal morality.
REACT to Blood Brother
2. DONATE to LIGHT (Living to Inspire Global Healing Today) as a way to help Rocky, the kids and other orphanages.
4. GET TESTED. Are you 100% sure that you are HIV free? Visit your campus clinic.
5. END THE STIGMA. Tell at least 5 people about this film and how it changed your mind about those living with HIV/AIDS.
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV is carried through bodily fluids, so if any of these fluids are transferred from one person to another, either through childbirth, sexual contact, drug injection or blood transfusion, the disease can be contracted. Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is an incurable virus that attacks a person’s immune system, robbing the body of its ability to fight illness. Most often, it ultimately leads to Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS which is the final stage of the HIV infection.