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November 21 , 2002

Documentary strives to keep AIDS in spotlight

More than 123,000 people in the state of California are living with AIDS. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that by the end of June 2001, it had received 793,026 reports of AIDS cases in the United States.

Statistics like these worry CSUS communications studies professor Joyce Mitchell. "AIDS is 100 percent preventable, but people still get it," she says.

Mitchell, who is also an alumnus of the University, has been an AIDS activist since 1986. She is also a television producer who, with fellow alumnus Ted Ross, is premiering a new documentary on Thursday, Nov. 21 during a private reception at the Crest Theater. It will then air Sunday, Dec. 1 on the Discovery Health Channel as part of its World AIDS Day programming.

AIDS in the 21st Century examines the AIDS crisis in the United States through the eyes of activists, health experts and those infected. The half-hour documentary shares the stories of several individuals, including an HIV-positive mother, a CDC doctor and the founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Mitchell, who won an Emmy Award with Ross in 2000, chose to narrow her topic after realizing there seemed to be few sources of information concentrating on the current state of the AIDS epidemic. "I found a huge void concerning where we stand right now," Mitchell says.

She also says that people of all ages and races need to continue to be sensitive to the dangers. "The face of AIDS is changing," she says, adding that although drugs are easing individuals' suffering, AIDS is not cured. More young people and women, for example, are being infected. Mitchell says that for those not aware of the lingering problem, "The documentary is a much needed tool." Mitchell says she hopes everyone who watches the program will take preventive measures and get tested for HIV.

Executives with the Discovery Health Channel also say they're trying to educate the people that while AIDS is still a real threat, individuals can make a difference in the prevention, battle and search for a cure. "Although the struggle against AIDS is far from over, it is far from being hopeless," says Bob Reid, the Discovery Health Channel general manager.

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