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    Posted November 28, 2011 by
    Marietta, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Have you been affected by AIDS?

    More from Suzdocfilms

    World AIDS Day: Not your Grandma's HIV/AIDS Film


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Suzdocfilms traveled to Botswana in the summer of 2008 and returned in the summer of 2009 to film a documentary, titled "The Road We Know." The film documents a small group of college students as they travel to every high school in the country and deliver messages and share their wisdom in hopes to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS. An interview with Botswana's president is also included in the film. 'I hope this film inspires people to have conversations to see what we can do in our own communities.'
    - JacqueCNN, CNN iReport producer

    I was incredibly nervous, tapping my shoes against the beautiful floors and readjusting my travel-wrinkled clothes every few minutes. Finally, the former President of Botswana entered the back room of his house and sat down, ready for his interview. And he had to leave in 15 minutes. With barely any time to adjust the microphone or gather my thoughts, I sat down for one of the most revealing interviews of my short documentary film career. Sir Ketumile Masire was President when HIV/AIDS sprang up, and crafted the first response for his nation. His admission, looking back at the pressures of that time, surprised me and others in the room. It was a first. “We just took it as a health aspect…and I think we went wrong in yielding to that type of argument”.

    The President had humbly admitted what many in the public health arena had also begun to examine – that HIV/AIDS is primarily a behavioral disease, that the solution would also be behavioral. This statement started the quest I would follow for the next 2 years, as I filmed and edited a remarkable HIV/AIDS youth prevention movement in Botswana. In a sense, now that the older generation has had a chance at preventing this devastating disease, especially in Botswana, a country with the second highest AIDS rate in the world, now the youth have taken over – and they aren’t shying away from blunt facts, and radical solutions for their younger peers.

    THE ROAD WE KNOW follows a group of Botswana college students in 2009 as the tide was turning in HIV/AIDS prevention. I was able to capture a moment in time, as these students headed around their country, facing cultural taboos and difficult travel, for five weeks with three tents, one car, and a radical solution to save lives.

    My documentary THE ROAD WE KNOW premieres for World AIDS Day this Thursday in Marietta, GA. It’s a free screening, open to the public at 7pm, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. This screening in my hometown will launch THE ROAD WE KNOW Movement, a national screening campaign. On the cutting edge of film distribution and audience engagement, we are reaching out to anyone interested in spreading the message of this film, hosting a screening, starting a discussion, and inspiring everyone that you can do more than you even realize to affect change in your country. I’ll be there too – come meet me! I’ll be answering questions after the screening.

    Come to the free screening Dec. 1: http://www.johnsonferry.org/NewsEvents/TheRoadWeKnow.aspx
    Visit Our Website: http://theroadweknow.com/
    Follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theroadweknow

    Can a small group of college students from Botswana challenge conventional wisdom about AIDS in Africa to save their generation? THE ROAD WE KNOW explores the impact of HIV/AIDS in Botswana through the efforts of these young adults who boldly advocate for behavior change to save lives.

    Celebrated as one of the most stable and prosperous of African countries, Botswana is also handicapped by the world’s second-highest HIV infection rate. AIDS has a devastating impact there, where one-quarter of the population is infected. Yet, many there won’t often speak about their HIV status or encourage candid conversation about sexual behavior and HIV.

    But that is changing. Breaking strict cultural taboos, a small group of college-age activists traveled around Botswana for five weeks, speaking at high-school rallies about AIDS and sex to their younger peers, counseling them about the facts of the disease, and urging them to prevent the spread of HIV by limiting their sexual partners.

    The film captures a moment as the tide began to turn in Botswana. The 2010 UNAIDS Outlook report says for the first time, reductions in HIV prevalence among young people have coincided with a change in sexual behavior patterns. The good news, according to UNAIDS, is that "young people are leading the HIV prevention revolution."

    Come join the revolution!

    - Suzanne Taylor, Director
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