Stigma remains an ongoing issue for a Filipina former actor living with HIV alongside her gay son who was born positive — but tenderness and resiliency prevail.
Twenty six years after the advent of lifesaving antiretroviral therapies, the seminal stories about HIV/AIDs still dwell overwhelmingly on the darkest and most acute phase of the pandemic. Although an HIV diagnosis had long ago ceased to be a death sentence, Hollywood seems almost reluctant to break new ground. We find in contemporary film and television few examples of work that reflects the social progress of the intervening quarter century while scrutinizing the persistence of HIV stigma as experienced in the 1980s - 1990s, in our era. Furthermore, the changing and diverse faces of the “poz undetectable” —those living with chronic and managed HIV—should also include depictions of poz women and children born with HIV, who are not merely surviving but thriving.
Fulfilling a promise I made to myself when I came out about my own HIV status to family, friends, and coworkers over social media, NEXT OF KIN offers one story of what it means to be living with HIV in the early 2020s, and the Poz-phobic stigma that still pervades queer, trans, and straight spaces today.
TIMOTHY GUION SMITH, FILMMAKER + ACTOR