For World AIDS Day, a new docu-series explores life with AIDS in 2014

Today is World’s AIDS Day — a day to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go in battling this debilitating disease. Even as the rate of awareness and protection grows, there were still 2.1 million new cases of HIV reported in 2013 alone. Keep in mind that many, many people living with the disease are also undiagnosed. To give you more numbers for perspective, U.N. stats from 2013 report, 35 million people are living with diagnosed AIDS around the world. In the United States, 50 percent of all new HIV infections happen in black adults and children. These are difficult numbers to talk about, but crucial numbers to consider particularly on World AIDS Day.

With all that in mind it becomes ever-more clear why a new documentary series, Dirty 30, which premieres today on YouTube, is so important. The 10-part series is a look at the 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, and the things that we have and haven’t learned in these three decades gone by. Creator Hannelore Williams, who is releasing her series on YouTube, wanted to document the way that AIDS looks today, in 2014: not how it looked in the 1990s or the 1980s. The series, Williams said, is a way for people to spark a conversation about HIV and AIDS for a new generation, and a way to come to a better understanding of what living with the disease is like. She has made the series with young viewers of color in mind.

“What I was seeing in the media didn’t reflect my experiences and my loved one’s experience around HIV,” Williams told HelloGiggles in an interview. “I also wanted to make a truthful yet entertaining doc about HIV, which feels like an odd thing to say, but it’s true. I was excited by the idea of making a documentary about HIV that I would actually look forward to watching myself.”

Indeed, Williams has described this series as for “people who don’t want to talk about HIV” meaning that it will (fingers crossed) reach a new audience, a younger audience. Williams’ thought is that the public has not been talking enough about the AIDS crisis in recent years and she hopes that her work will restart the conversation. “It never stopped being vital, we just stopped talking about it. HIV is closer to you than you think,” Williams said. She also went into the issue of numbers, and how while the disease has been close to controlled in some settings, in others it’s increasing. “I find it strange that overall new infections are stable, while in certain populations it’s on the rise,” she said. “Those pools being people of color and people whose rights are disregarded as general principle.”

Through her journey, Williams also touches many facets of the disease that she hadn’t previously considered: the humor that the HIV infected can adapt to cope, or the places that those who work with HIV patients find hope.

“I couldn’t have imagined what beauty I would see, and how much I would learn about love, hard-work, persistence, and oneness,” Williams said. “[HIV] is a human rights issue and there’s not better time than now to stand up for human rights.” 

Watch the series here and check out a teaser below.