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            HIV & AIDS: AWARENESS & COMPASSION, a CBS Interfaith Special, will be broadcast Sunday, June 17 on the CBS Television Network. Please check your local station for exact time.

            More than thirty years ago the AIDS pandemic first entered the consciousness of the American people. In spite of overwhelming scientific advances in prevention and ways in which to help those living with HIV and AIDS, there is still a stigma borne by those with the disease. There is a growing movement from within the interfaith community on behalf of those afflicted to assist them in living productive and healthy lives.

            The program covers the “Lighten the Burden” AIDS Conference in Tampa, Fla., sponsored by the United Methodist Church. Rev. Don Messer, the conference’s leader, has been advocating this cause since the 1980s, and tells how the stigma of AIDS kills as effectively as the disease itself. He believes faith communities can take the lead in ending such discrimination. To that end, he works on his foundation, the Center for the Church and Global AIDS, as well as the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, and both have improved the lives of people around the world living with the disease.

            We visit with Bishop Ivan Abrahams, the newly elected General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He says that once religious institutions deal with the stigma and discriminations associated with these diseases people will become more open to providing support to better the quality of life for those HIV and AIDS.  We also speak with Pauline Muchina, Senior Partnership Advisor for UNAIDS, about the positive impact AIDS ministries are making here and abroad.

            The documentary also interviews Rev. Jon Fuller, S.J., M.D., a Jesuit priest and medical doctor. He has been working with HIV and AIDS patients since 1983 and speaks about the early days of the pandemic, offering unique perspectives as a cleric and physician.

            Later the program highlights the work of START (Syringe, Training, Advocacy, Resources and Treatment), a harm reduction, prevention and awareness initiative sponsored by the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. We hear from Executive Director George Kerr, Program Director Ron Daniels and church Co-Pastor Brian Hamilton about the program.

Food & Friends delivers free meals to those with HIV or AIDS in the Washington, D.C. area.  This program began in the basement of the Westminster Church and has expanded to a new location where they delivered more than 1.2 million free meals to those with life-challenging illnesses. We hear from Craig Shniderman, the Executive Director, and from two of the 13,000 volunteers. We also meet a client who candidly shares his story of living with AIDS since the 1990s.

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, an effort coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), which is the oldest AIDS organization in the U.S.  We hear from Rodney McCoy, Jr. about the event and the ongoing work of the organization.  

            Jewish Community Services (JCS), a Baltimore, Md.-based non-profit, offers age-appropriate education and outreach to raise awareness about risky behaviors associated with substance use, abuse and addiction and the spread of HIV/AIDS. We speak with Robin Sweeney, Health Educator for Prevention Education at JCS. We attend a JCS presentation at a public health class at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. Students learn from an AIDS advocate about living with the disease and who is at risk for contracting it.   

John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer.  This documentary is produced in cooperation with The National Council of Churches, a consortium of Roman Catholic organizations, The Islamic Society of North America, The Union of Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.

Following the June 17 air date, this program may be viewed again at  “Like” us on and follow us on Twitter @CBSReligion.

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Press Contact:

Jeremy Murphy 212-975-4577