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Documentary Sheds Light on Hidden HIV/AIDS Epidemic in American South

July 11, 2013

Director Lisa Biagiotti created the documentary deepsouth to examine why the HIV epidemic has grown more rapidly in the U.S. South than other regions of the country. According to Biagiotti, more than half of all new HIV infections occurred in the South, which comprises only 37 percent of the U.S. population. Biagiotti stated that she used HIV as a global positioning system to identify the "most fragile parts" of the country.

Biagiotti noted that HIV advocacy groups such as urban, white, gay men have been more successful at sharing the HIV epidemic story than HIV-affected populations in the South. Factors that obscured the story of the southern HIV epidemic and caused HIV rates to increase throughout the last 15 years included poverty, lack of education and access to healthcare, secrecy and discrimination against HIV-infected people, and limited sex education in schools. She cited one trailer park in which 95 percent of residents had an STD.

To document the "broken social infrastructure" of the U.S. South and local and regional efforts to address the HIV epidemic, Biagiotti traveled 13,000 miles and conducted interviews with more than 400 individuals across the region. The Los Angeles Outfest Film Festival will show deepsouth on July 12 and 15.

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Excerpted from:
PRI Public Radio International

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