When it comes to AIDS, educational videos abound. And for the most part, they are produced either directly by or through funding from government and government agencies. To date, their message has been monotonously uniform: to prevent infection by HIV, use a condom.
(HIV, human immunodeficient virus, is the known cause of AIDS).
Into this steady stream of ‘safe sex’ propaganda comes the Jeremiah Films Inc. video, No Second Chance. It’s unconventional, yet wise message and its gentle, yet truthful handling of a difficult subject make it a light in the darkness.
The film being with some startling statistics:
Every 13 seconds an American teenager will become infected with an STD (sexual transmitted disease). This amounts to some 6,000 new cases among teens in the next 24 hours.
In only 1/3 of a generation HIV has circled the entire glove. “Never,” states C. Everett Koop, former US Surgeon General, “has there been a disease so tailor-made to wipe out an entire generation.”
Yet ignorance about AIDS and its cause, HIV, abound. “The purpose of this video,” explains Cathy Kay, Executive Director of California Healthcare Advocates, whose explanations punctuate the film, “is to teach you about AIDS and to clear up any confusion you may have and to help you make choices that will save your life.
While the video sets out to save young lives, those shown in the film have already lost theirs.
“It’s not like it used to be. It used to be you could get a shot of penicillin if you god VD. But that’s no longer true. There is no shot that anyone can give you. If you get AIDS, you’re dead.” Dennis Turner, a dying AIDS patient quietly states. He, along with his fellow AIDS sufferers chronicle the vast array of opportunistic diseases that follow on the heels of AIDS infection.
Most heart-rendering of them all is James, the 6-year-old son of a heterosexual couple, one o whom was unknowingly HIV infected because of pre-marital promiscuity. His mother and father, both dead from AIDS related causes, James is spending the remaining time of this short life with his grandparents who attempt to cope with the emotional and financial strain of James’ chronic pain and suffering.
James is living proof of the film’s contention that “we have a large pool of infected individuals out there and no one knows who and where they are and they continue to spread this disease without even being aware they’re doing it.”
HIV-infected individuals can unknowingly spread the disease because they themselves show no symptoms: the AIDS virus can lay dormant for up to 8 years after infection. But like all retro-viruses, it never goes away. HIV infection is permanent.
For the most part AIDS is a voluntary disease. Its transmission is based on behaviours, particularly sexual ones, which can, and must be changed if the flood of the AIDS patients is to be halted.
And this is where No Second Chance wins accolades. For unlike government-funded AIDS videos, No Second Chance acknowledges and promotes the only answer to AIDS: premarital chastity and marital monogamy with an uninfected partner.
And it does so in language that teens can understand and relate to states Cathy Kay: “At my 20 year reunion from high school there were probably people there with genital herpes or venereal diseases that were incurable, but they were there. At your 20 year reunion from high school, there are going to be empty chairs, because they will have died of AIDS.”
What an exhilarating breath of fresh air! No condoms, no foam, no ‘meaningful relationships, or ‘responsible sexuality’ – just plain truth.
But what if I want to have sex before marriage? Queries a teenage boy. “Then you’d better be prepared to die,” returns Ms. Kay.
AIDS patients Dennis Turner acknowledges that “a young life is far too great to throw away on one sexual experience or a drug high…” James’ grandmother agrees: “It’s a few moments of pleasure and a lifetime of regrets,” she states. And that’s the truth, because with AIDS there is no second chance.