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candles lit to represenat AIDS awarenessA locally-produced documentary on aging with HIV is enjoying online release on World AIDS Day.

Local documentary explores challenges of aging with AIDS

Experience on set is the best education for a film student, says Sebastien Gaspar-Woods. That’s one reason he values his time working on documentary being released today. Another was the subject matter: the stories of seven local persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Aging & HIV: A Story of Resiliency, produced and directed by former UWindsor vice-president advancement Amanda Gellman, will be released online for World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.

“Working on a film, you learn a lot just by watching the other crew members,” says Gaspar-Woods.

This project was especially enlightening, as the filmmakers interviewed subjects to represent millions of others around the world.

“It was aa very emotional experience,” Gaspar-Woods says. “I’m hoping it will help inspire people to know that they aren’t alone.”

Gellman says the timing of the release couldn’t be better.

“Our plan was to launch the film in a local theatre. However, realizing that there are few, if any, World AIDS Day events in 2020, we decided to release the documentary through a website set up for this purpose,” she says. “People are at home, and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s felt a lot like the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, so will be of interest to many.”

The 45-minute film also looks at the obstacles and setbacks experienced by long-term survivors — isolation, poverty, post-traumatic stress, unemployment, and more. Participants discuss a system that is not set up to take care of aging persons living with HIV/AIDS.

“We hope that the film serves to combat the isolation of long-term survivors, many of whom were determined advocates when the movement needed them most,” says Gellman. “The message is universal, regardless of illness, ethnicity, age, or gender.”

Aging and HIV: A Story of Resiliency is available for free viewing at www.agingandhiv.com.