In every city, there’s another city
In every city, there’s another city that visitors rarely see. But this other city isn’t just anywhere—it’s in Washington, D.C. The very city that is home to the capitol of the most powerful country in the world has an HIV/AIDS rate that is not only the nation’s highest, but rivals some African countries.
“The Other City” introduces us to the people who live in the shadow of the Capitol but remain almost invisible to the lawmakers and lobbyists who live there. It’s about politics and ideology, corruption and bureaucracy, and an epidemic that grew out of control while few people paid any attention or cared.
HIV/AIDS is wrapped in a thicket of American prejudices and discomfort about homosexuality, race, class, and drugs—all of which fuel opposition to life-saving programs like needle exchange. Federal denial of funding for clean syringe programs has created both a higher incidence of the disease and helped shift its demographic to one that is increasingly poor, black and Hispanic. And as the only city in the nation with no state government, Washington D.C. has suffered in a particularly cruel way from this lack of federal government support.
“The Other City” tells the stories of people who haven’t let lack of government assistance stop them, and have taken matters into their own hands. After contracting HIV from a boyfriend who didn’t disclose he was infected, Jose Ramirez devotes his life to promoting HIV awareness among Hispanic teens. While living with AIDS and fighting desperately to keep herself and her three young children from being thrown out of their home, J’Mia Edwards realizes she can play a role in helping others. A one-time addict now living with AIDS, Ron Daniels saves lives by providing clean needles and helping drug users receive treatment. And finally, the staff of the AIDS hospice Joseph’s House struggles to provide solace to terminal patients’ last days, to deal with their own sense of loss, and their constantly declining funding.
For these activists, remedies can’t be found within the confines of an office or a regular schedule: for some the work encompasses round-the-clock care-giving, and for others a never-ending trek through the squalid drug dens and clandestine park trails where people engage in risky behavior. Informal HIV/AIDS organizations are set up wherever people can congregate to share experiences and offer mutual support. Still, without financial support, large-scale progress is beyond the scope of these endeavors. In this environment, forward movement means providing comfort for the afflicted and saving as many lives as possible.
"THE OTHER CITY” is a tribute to ordinary people struggling to live their lives in dignity, to the compassionate ones who lessen their pain, and to those who stand up to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS every day