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AIDS, Africa and Living on the Down Low
March 31, 2005

Calvin College will present two events on AIDS in April.

On Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel Undercroft at Calvin, professor of political science Amy Patterson will speak as part of a joint lecture series between the new African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) minor at Calvin College and the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

Patterson is editor of the book "The African State and the AIDS Crisis." The title of her talk will be "People Are Dying: The Politics of AIDS in Africa." The challenges in Africa, says Patterson, are enormous.

"The New York Times reported recently that Africa needs at least a million more health care workers to address AIDS," she says. "We are discovering as AIDS drugs become cheaper that there is still the problem of getting them to people. There are not enough doctors and nurses, not good storage facilities, not good distribution systems to disperse them, even in relatively rich countries like South Africa which has a goal of providing free drugs to all of its HIV positive citizens who need them."

The lecture is open to all. Students with I.D. may attend for free. World Affairs Council members are $5; non-members, $8.

The next day the African and African Diaspora Studies Minor will join forces with the Calvin Film Forum to present a talk and the showing of a film by African American filmmaker, and Grand Rapids native, Michael Smith.

He will speak on Thursday, April 14 at 7 pm in the Bytwerk Video Theatre at Calvin on "Compassion, Faith, and Cultural Taboos: Reporting on Sexuality and AIDS."

He also will introduce the documentary he produced, wrote and directed for the Discovery Channel called "Dangerous Deception: Living on the Down Low," which investigated the startling stories of men living on the "down low" and the women they deceive, many of whom become infected with HIV as a result. The documentary takes an in-depth look at the lives of two men living on the down low and two women infected with HIV by men they thought were both monogamous and heterosexual. It first was broadcast on World AIDS Day 2004.

After a screening of the film, Smith, a City High graduate, will lead a discussion for the audience about the issues raised.

In addition Smith will give a talk to Calvin students at 3:30 pm on April 14 called "Documentary Filmmaking: Life Remixed and Re-Presented."