Inside “The Other City”

Sarah Allen

“The Other City,” a documentary about HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capitol, premieres in Weschler Theater (on the 3rd floor of the Mary Graydon Center) on Thursday, October 14th, at 5:30 P.M.

At least 3 percent of all Washington D.C. residents are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS—the highest ratio of infection in the nation.  This percentage is considered an epidemic. During the AIDS epidemic of 1992, the number of those infected with HIV and AIDS was only a percentage point higher.

If that weren’t enough, the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in Washington, D.C. increased 22% between 2006 and 2007.

Susan Koch’s documentary puts a face on those affected by the disease rather than barraging us with statistics.

J’Mia Edwards, a single mother of three who was unknowingly infected by her partner, has been evicted from her home and now faces a potential 2-3 year wait for subsidized housing intended for AIDS victims.

Jose Ramirez, disowned by his father for his sexuality, contracted AIDS from his partner.  He now works teaching young Hispanic immigrants about HIV and AIDS.

Ron Daniels, a former heroin addict with AIDS, works in a needle exchange program that trades drug users’ used needles for sanitary ones.  The ban on needle exchange programs was removed after 2007 in the District, having been the only city for 10 years not permitted to practice needle exchange.

Aiming to promote change, Koch’s film creates a much-needed discussion about those with HIV/AIDS and the lack of funding for programs that support these individuals.  The Washington Post found that “the Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Administration awarded more than $25 million from 2004 to 2008 to nonprofit agencies marked by questionable spending, a lack of clients, or lapses in record-keeping and care.”

This documentary is a must see—not just for those interested in learning about HIV/AIDS, but for all DC residents.

“I came to understand how HIV/AIDS intersects and reflects many of the injustices and inequities that plague our capital and our nation—from poverty and race and homophobia, to health care, incarceration rates and education,” says Koch.

For the trailer and more information, click here.

Update: A link present within this story was updated.