ABC probes AIDS crisis among American blacks
By Erik Pedersen
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “There is a crisis in
America that almost nobody wants to talk about.”
It sounds like just another attention-grabbing opening line
for a TV newsmagazine story about impending doom tied to bird
flu or maybe killer bees. But this time, the ominous tone is
warranted and difficult to shrug off.
“Out of Control: AIDS in Black America,” a special edition
of “Primetime” on ABC, encounters a brace of touchy subjects —
from race and sex to politics and religion — in an attempt to
carve through the apathy that engulfs this issue. The numbers
are numbing: Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population but 50%
of all new AIDS cases, including 68% among women. “We should be
in the streets,” one activist says.
The report lists five main reasons the crisis has
mushroomed, and each is backed up by strong arguments both
subjective (interviews with politicians, clergy and ordinary
people) and objective (hard numbers). “Out of Control” is
alarming without being alarmist; it hammers away in making its
case but is never judgmental. That includes reporter Terry
Moran’s tough but fair questioning of Jesse Jackson.
Moran took over the story from Peter Jennings, who briefly
appears sitting in on a support group of HIV-positive black
men. The piece was taped 10 days before Jennings was diagnosed
with the cancer that claimed his life last year. He would have
been proud of this report — if not the need for it.