Getting the Inside Story on the Science of HIV

By Jeffrey T. Safrit | February 15, 2012

While all eyes have been on the African Cup of Nations football tournament (soccer for American readers), audiences at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles have been watching a movie about a different type of contest – an African football player versus HIV.

The movie had its genesis six years ago, when the Foundation was asked to support an innovative filming project to bring HIV prevention and treatment messages to a new generation in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership asked me to become a scientific advisor for the film, which was intended to both entertain and educate audiences about HIV/AIDS.

Now, that movie – “Inside Story: The Science of HIV/AIDS” – is a reality.

“Inside Story” tells the story of Kalu, a young football player from Malindi, Kenya. As Kalu is recruited for a team in South Africa, the film chronicles his trials and tribulations with life, love, and HIV. 

What makes this film different is that it delivers messages about HIV in novel and amazing ways. It uses high-tech animation to show how HIV is transmitted – as well as the virus’s effect on the body and the immune system once a person is infected.

Most important, “Inside Story” conveys the critical message that knowledge is power.

And while the film may be about one man’s struggles with HIV, the messages it delivers are global in scope.

Understanding how to protect oneself from getting infected with the virus, how to keep from transmitting it to others, and how to keep oneself healthy – these are all tools that can help create a generation free of HIV and AIDS around the world.

“Inside Story” had its world premiere in Johannesburg, South Africa, on World AIDS Day last year, and I was fortunate to be able to see it at its North American premiere outside Washington, D.C. in January.

The film’s producers, director, and stars joined a packed audience at the historic AFI Silver Theatre, and at a reception across the street at the Discovery Channel’s global headquarters.

Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Eric Goosby, the head of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the program that has been responsible for providing prevention and treatment to millions throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

“Inside Story” has been supported by key players in the global AIDS fight – including PEPFAR, USAID, UNAIDS, Chevron, Access Bank, and other partners – and I’m proud that the Foundation was able to play a role in its development.

Kudos to the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership for their tireless work in getting the film made.

In the months to come, I look forward to seeing it reach new audiences throughout Africa and around the globe.

Follow “Inside Story” on Facebook for more updates.

Jeffrey T. Safrit, PhD, is the Director of Clinical and Basic Research for the Foundation, based in Los Angeles.