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photo Soft Smoke
AIDS in the Rural West
By Jennie Franks & Katie Jewett

Despite our years of experience with the HIV virus – and repeated proof that it can affect anyone, anywhere – many people in rural communities still cling to the belief that AIDS is a big city disease, that it only affects gays and drug users, that "it can’t happen here." As a result, while AIDS is declining a bit in major cities, it is actually on the rise in smaller towns and less populated areas.

Soft Smoke first follows Roy, who works for the Colorado Health Department’s Partner Notification program, travelling the back roads of the state to give people the unwelcome news that they may have been exposed to AIDS. He believes that low self-esteem is the key factor behind the risky behaviors that expose so many of his clients to the deadly virus, and notes that for every person diagnosed with HIV there are three others who don’t yet know they’re infected.

In towns where everybody knows everybody else, people who are "different" for any reason may feel very isolated and alone. HIV positive for more than ten years, Laurie still feels that she cannot talk openly about her condition in her small community; teenaged Claudia talks about how friends taunted her and were afraid to be around her when they found out she was positive. By contrast Robert, who died soon after the film was completed, became an outspoken AIDS activist, hoping he could help young people avoid the disease.

Their stories, and the stories of the others profiled in this brief but powerful video documentary, convey a clear prevention message that will resonate with young people anywhere.

DVD version only has both closed-captions and audio descriptions.

28 minutes
© 1999
Purchase $199 DVD
Order No. QA-301
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-964-9
close captioned

"A great video - very touching and powerful. We would love to use it in the schools here; it's appropriate for all ages, from middle school on. It should be required for freshman orientation." Health Department Staff comments, Mesa County, Colorado

" Recommended for youths particularly in places where complacency about AIDS may be highest." Booklist

Awards & Conference Screenings
Columbus International Film Festival

Related Films
Does Anyone Die of AIDS Anymore?: For some patients, advances in treatment have transformed HIV from a death sentence to a chronic illness, tens of thousands are still dying of AIDS in the U.S., and more will die because of ignorance and denial.

Undetectable: Follows the stories of six individuals from diverse backgrounds as they deal with the physical and psychological implication of new HIV drug therapies.

Straight Up Life: Exploring the growing problem of "dual diagnosis," this video follows several young people in a program for drug and alcohol abusers who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

The Other Side of Blue: Eight to ten percent of teens may suffer from clinical depression, and many of these young people may attempt suicide. This provocative video focuses on its nature, causes, symptoms, and consequences, and on how the social stigma associated with depression blocks some teens from seeking help.

AIDS Work: Two physicians and four nurses reflect on the fears, frustrations - and rewards - of caring for patients with HIV/AIDS.

Sexo Protegido


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Study Guide

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website