Three minutes from now you're going to have a lump in your throat. And you might be a little turned on.
This brief, perfectly-safe-for-work video, "Change," was produced for World AIDS Day by HIV advocates in Lebanon working with The Regional Arab Network Against AIDS, among other groups. It was shared with me by one of these advocates, hoping to bring attention to the state of HIV discrimination and stigma in that region. Even the advocate himself asked not to be identified, for fear of repercussions.
And yet, the power of art prevails. Not only is this video brilliantly effective, it features a leading man that embodies, well, the best of the region's physical attributes.
I was intrigued, then impressed, then skeptical that it was corny, and then the damn lump in my throat appeared, all in the course of three minutes. I hope you will honor the efforts of the filmmakers and the advocates behind this message and take a look.
About half a million people in the Arab world are living with HIV/AIDS, and new infections there have doubled in the last ten years. While we enjoy treatment advances here in the United States, mortality rates from AIDS have doubled in the Arab world in the last decade. Stigma is widely perceived as a leading factor contributing to people not being tested or receiving care.