When John was diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he never would have imagined he would be alive to celebrate his
Twenty-three years later, the Oak Ridge resident views his life with the sense of appreciation and perspective that can only come from someone forced to face his own mortality. “My life is a lot different,” he said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
John is one of five East Tennesseans featured on a new WUOT special, “I’m Still Here: My HIV Life.” The program will air on the University of Tennessee-licensed station during Morning Edition and All Things Considered Wednesday, Nov. 6.
“With all the advancements in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, much of American society has been lulled into believing people with HIV simply need to take their medicine and they’ll be OK,” WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell said. “But they still face discrimination, physical pain, loneliness and the sobering prospect that their lives can be cut short by this terrible disease.”
“I’m Still Here: My HIV Life” was produced by Powell and freelance producer Leslie Snow with critical assistance from Positively Living, a Knoxville-based agency that offers housing and care to lower-income people suffering from HIV and AIDS. The show also features a custom soundtrack composed by local musician and WUOT Jazz Coordinator Todd Steed.
Stylistically, the program aims to capture the HIV experience of the participants through the use of creative editing, archival sound and Steed’s active soundtrack. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever produced before,” Powell said.
“‘My HIV Life’ tells a story of grief, pain, acceptance, hope and survival,” Snow said. “There are certainly moments of heartbreak, but there are also moments that will make you smile. Our goal is to give listeners the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes for a while, to see the world through their eyes.”
"I'm Still Here: My HIV Life" will air Wednesday Nov. 6 at 6:40a, 8:40a, 1:05p and 5:50p.
Three of the show's participants also will be panelists during WUOT’s award-winning public affairs program, Dialogue, on Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. You're encouraged to call in during the live program to ask questions about what it’s like to live with HIV. The show also will feature a rebroadcast of the special.