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Documentary's Web Site Aims to Break the Stigma of HIV/AIDS in Illinois and Beyond

Community groups encouraged to schedule documentary screenings and accompanying HIV testing and counseling activities

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - June 7, 2011 - A new Web site about the documentary film "A Mirror to the Heart: Breaking the Stigma of HIV/AIDS" aims to draw attention to the importance of HIV testing and prevention. The site's URL is .

The documentary shows Illinois African-American and South African youth involved in HIV testing and prevention activities as they take leadership roles in the fight against HIV/AIDS - an infection that greatly impacts their communities. The Web site features documentary clips and background about the film, as well as information about HIV testing and prevention.

The documentary and Web site are sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services and BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) and is supported by the Illinois Public Health Association .

The film was produced in response to data showing that stigma was a leading barrier to successful HIV counseling, testing and treatment, says Gina Lathan Whitener, executive producer for "A Mirror to the Heart" and president of LathanHarris, a Champaign company that does public health program development, evaluation and communications. "The data is absolutely alarming indicating that HIV/AIDS is disproportionately affecting the African-American community in Illinois and beyond. It's time to turn this around - and make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past," she states.

To schedule a documentary screening, community organizations can contact Whitener through the Web site . Most screening events include on-site HIV counseling and testing and conclude with a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session. Organizations that have participated in "A Mirror to the Heart" screenings include sororities, fraternities, motorcycle clubs, senior groups, church groups, after-school youth programs, schools, civic and community organizations, and GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) groups. The documentary also has been shown in juvenile centers and to substance abuse clients.

Later this month, the documentary will be shown at 6:30 p.m., June 24, at McDermott/Haymarket Center, 932 W. Washington, Chicago. The screening will conclude with a panel discussion and question-and-answer session. On-site HIV testing will be available.

The Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services provides information and technical assistance regarding the health care needs of minority populations; and develops, maintains and enhances health care services in minority communities. To achieve this goal, the Center works with state and local entities to heighten awareness of minority health issues and services across the state.

BASUAH is an acronym for Brothers And Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS. A program of the Illinois Department of Public Health, BASUAH promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among communities of color through education, collaboration and community engagement.


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