The Miami Epidemic

While so many turn away at the first mention of AIDS, Professor Allan Richards of Florida International University decided to travel straight to the center of the epidemic in South Africa to get behind the disease. “The Miami Epidemic” is a documentary that captures his trip to this disease-stricken country, taking along with him 2 FIU students to share the experience with.

The program served to compare a poor country that is taking all steps necessary to fight this disease to Miami where both the media and the community tend to turn their heads and ignore a disease that is slowly taking over our community.

It was a very smart idea on the part of the journalism department to team up with other schools within FIU such as the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work and the University Health Services, in order to provide viewers with opinions and facts from both a journalist’s standpoint as well as a health professional’s.

The format of the program also allowed it to flow, playing the documentary first, in order to give viewers all the background facts on the status of this epidemic. After the video played there was a panel discussion on issues surrounding this disease for the second half of the show.

I felt that a few of the questions asked by the mediator of the discussion had already been answered by the video or were even common sense. I did however feel that the information that came from all the professionals was very credible and they seemed to know exactly what they were talking about. As a viewer I found myself become engaged in the cause as they gave valuable facts about how to slow the spread of this disease and gave us pointers about what another country is doing to make the public aware of this major issue.

While the discussion panel seemed to provide me with a lot of information, it was the documentary that captured my attention most. I found myself watching intently, not even allowing myself to stand up for a bathroom break until it was over. I had always been aware of AIDS but never looked at it through a media student’s perspective. While the latest iphones, computers and cars are found on a billboard or bus around every corner, AIDS is not nearly advertised enough and people here in South Florida have the mentality that if you don’t hear about it, it doesn’t exist.

It’s a scary monster- AIDS. While medical treatments are available today in order to control it, people still die from it all the time and people in Miami need to be aware of the high number of infected people we have living among us. Professor Richards and the other panelists made that concept very clear and the strategies that they mentioned for having people become more aware might help us get that number down and hopefully rid Miami of this terrible epidemic.

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