HIV/AIDS cannot be cured, yet it is 100 percent preventable. A “dangerous silence” follows the disease while half of all newly diagnosed HIV infections in the United States occur among people under age 26.
With the ultimate goal of combating the continuing spread of HIV/AIDS, WNED is partnering with community organizations and schools to begin “breaking the silence.” For the second year in a row, WNED is providing information and an on-air forum to foster open dialog and dispel myths. Public awareness and outreach efforts making use of television, the Internet and training materials for health educators are already making a difference.
Breaking the Silence II, a live, two-hour bi-national broadcast, will air Monday, February 11 beginning at 9 p.m. The local WNED documentary Dangerous Silence, followed by segments from the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine, IN THE LIFE, will be simulcast on WNED-TV (in the Buffalo and Toronto areas) and ThinkBright TV/Time Warner 21 (across upstate New York).
During program breaks, experts in HIV/AIDS education, care and prevention from Western New York and Southern Ontario will share their insight and answer viewers’ questions. They include several people featured in DANGEROUS SILENCE, such as Rev. Germaine Hurst, who started an AIDS ministry at Buffalo’s Greater Emmanuel Temple Church; Buffalo high school teacher Jim McCarthy; and Ron Silverio, president and CEO of AIDS Community Services of WNY, Inc.
During the broadcast, viewers are invited to call 1-800-727-1017 to ask a question or to anonymously request a free Information and Resource kit (which includes a DVD of Dangerous Silence and answers to common questions).
The program premiered in February 2007 as part of the inaugural Breaking the Silence broadcast on WNED-TV. As a result, 1,600 viewers phoned in during program breaks and 2,500 kits were distributed.
Outreach and community education efforts continued long afterward. Information and Resource kits have been provided to teachers across the state and used in trainings for education professionals. The documentary is now part of the AIDS Prevention Curriculum for the Buffalo Public Schools.
“The effects of this powerful community collaboration have been monumental,” said Christopher Voltz, director of marketing and special projects at AIDS Community Services. Numerous health educators expressed gratitude for an effective new tool to help build awareness and prevent disease.
“I encourage everyone to join WNED in breaking the silence surrounding HIV/AIDS,” said WNED President Donald K. Boswell. “Tune in February 11, then discuss this important issue with your students, clients and loved ones, especially young people.”
The 2008 event is funded by a grant from the Toronto-based MAC Foundation awarded to AIDS Community Services, in partnership with WNED.
To learn more, visit http://thinkbright.org/Families/dangeroussilence.asp.
Through WNED-TV, ThinkBright TV, Classical 94.5/WNED-FM and WNED-AM 970 The Information Station, the member-supported Western New York Public Broadcasting Association provides high quality programming and services that enlighten, inspire, entertain and educate our communities. Additional information about WNED can be found at www.wned.org.