Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The Lazarus Effect, a 30-minute documentary directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze, documents the effect that HIV ARV drugs (Antiretroviral) can have in communities and families who are HIV infected. The Lazarus Effect focuses on several subjects in Zambia, located in Sub-Saharan Africa, a continent where two-thirds of the 33 million or so people living with HIV reside.

By definition, Antiretroviral are medications for the treatment of infection by retroviruses, primarily HIV. One prominent example where catching the virus early and treating the patient with ARVs is former NBA player Magic Johnson. Johnson, who announced he was HIV positive in 1991, started treated early on before the virus could destroy his immune system. For the people of Sub Saharan Africa however, the ability to afford ARVs has been one contributing factor to the growing pandemic. In the documentary, HIV Peer Education Counselor Constance (Connie) Mudenda, who discovered she was HIV positive after her husband tested positive states that most often people have to choose between paying rent or food and buying medication. In a country where only 52,000 can afford ARVs and millions needs it, this usually results in a morbid reality – Rent/Food 1, HIV 0.

In 2003, the Global Fund To Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria began to commit money to fund the distribution of free ARVs to over 3 million people across Africa. Encouraging, but still not enough. Over 3,000 die every day from AIDS in Africa. If you missed The Lazarus Effect, watch it now.

In peace and progress,

Kim J. Ford

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