MTV will present a special on December 1 at 7:00 p.m., Eastern Time, which profiles three young people who are HIV-infected. MTV hopes that the special, “I’m Positive,” will become a regular series. In the 30 years that HIV has existed, the virus that causes AIDS has gone from a death sentence to a chronic condition that can be controlled with early detection and a drug regimen; however, many are worried that some people are not taking the condition seriously enough. According to Drew Pinsky, one of the producers of the show, even if HIV does not develop into full-blown AIDS, there are still questions about the long-term health implications of living with HIV and the drugs that are taken to control it.
The three profiles presented in the program reveal a generational divide. One of the three subjects is a California girl who feels in control of the situation in spite of her infection, while another subject’s mother is distraught and thinks her daughter is dying because her single, Southern daughter became infected through one instance of unprotected sex. The third profile subject, a male, has a difficult time telling his family that he is HIV-infected, since he had only revealed to them that he was gay one year ago.
MTV has successfully used documentary-style programming to effectively reach its young viewers with a message; its programming on teenage pregnancy is a prime example. Pinsky declares that young people can relate to peers who are struggling with the HIV problem. MTV originated its “safe sex” campaigns in 1985, and has been working with the Kaiser Family Foundation since 1997 to encourage youth to get tested for HIV. Two in five people infected with HIV each year in the United States are between the ages of 13 and 29—MTV’s target audience. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV infection, according to the CDC.