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Queer Eye star and New York Times-bestselling author Jonathan Van Ness is set to voice a special documentary feature commissioned by Vice TV to mark the 40th anniversary of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Vice Versa: The Neglected Pandemic, 40 Years of HIV & AIDS, produced by Vice Studios and distributed worldwide by Vice Distribution, is set to be a comprehensive look at what it means to be HIV-positive in the U.S. in 2021.
Premiering June 2, the two-hour doc will use personal accounts, insights from different communities, organizations and people from different races, genders and sexual orientations to showcase “the frontlines of scientific advancements in the field and the reality of the experience.” Exploring the truth behind the statistics, Vice Versa: The Neglected Pandemic, 40 Years of HIV & AIDS will travel across the U.S. to meet those living with HIV/AIDS, such as Hamilton star and activist Javier Muñoz, and the advocates fighting for better civil rights for the affected communities.
“It made so much sense to partner with Vice TV on this project, as they are built around a mission to tell courageous true stories you won’t see anywhere else told by authentic, first person voices” said Van Ness, who revealed their own HIV-positive status in the 2019 memoir Over The Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love in the hope it would break the stigma surrounding the disease. Their appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to discuss the book and life with the illness earned a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding variety or talk show episode. “Living with HIV has changed my life and my outlook on the world. The HIV Social Safety Net in the United States does not serve people equally and being part of this mission to educate more people is something I’m honored to do.”
The feature will also feature insights from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who rose to prominence during the AIDS crisis in 1984, becoming the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position he still holds today.
“In reflecting on the global response to COVID-19, it is jarring to realize there was a real absence of a united medical and legislative response during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s,” said Morgan Hertzan, executive vp and general manager, Vice TV. “We know now that this was rooted in a lack of regard and compassion towards the communities most affected by the illness. It is tragic to think about how many lives could have been saved and where we might be today had the public been less fearful all those years ago.”
Part the Vice TV’s Vice Versa documentary strand, which also includes investigations into whether institutionalized racism drove Meghan Markle to leave the U.K.’s royal family and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was sabotaged by the media, the feature is directed and produced by Linda McCarthy for Vice Studios. Executive producer is Yonni Usiskin and co-executive producer is Lexi Rose.
Falguni Lakhani Adams is executive producer for Vice TV and Tara Nadolny is senior development Manager for Vice TV. Catherine Whyte is executive vice president, head of production, Vice TV. Vice Distribution, the global distribution division of Vice Media Group, holds worldwide rights.
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