KNOXVILLE—When John was diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he never would have imagined he would be alive to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Twenty-three years later, the Oak Ridge resident views his life with the sense of appreciation and perspective that can only come from someone forced to face his own mortality.
“My life is a lot different,” he said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
John is one of five East Tennesseans featured on a new WUOT special, “I’m Still Here: My HIV Life.” The program will air during “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
WUOT 91.9 FM is licensed to the University of Tennessee.
“With all the advancements in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, much of American society has been lulled into believing people with HIV simply need to take their medicine and they’ll be OK,” WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell said. “But they still face discrimination, physical pain, loneliness, and the sobering prospect that their lives can be cut short by this terrible disease.”
“I’m Still Here: My HIV Life” was produced by Powell and freelance producer Leslie Snow with critical assistance from Positively Living, a Knoxville-based agency that offers housing and care to lower-income people suffering from HIV and AIDS. The show also features a custom soundtrack composed by local musician and WUOT Jazz Coordinator Todd Steed.
Stylistically, the program aims to capture the HIV experience of the participants through the use of creative editing, archival sound, and Steed’s active soundtrack.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever produced before,” Powell said.
“”My HIV Life’ tells a story of grief, pain, acceptance, hope and survival,” Snow said. “There are certainly moments of heartbreak, but there are also moments that will make you smile. Our goal is to give listeners the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes for a while, to see the world through their eyes.”
Several participants also will be panelists during WUOT’s award-winning public affairs program, “Dialogue,” at 1 p.m. on Nov. 6. Listeners are encouraged to call in during the live program to ask questions about what it’s like to live with HIV. The show also will feature a rebroadcast of the special.
Listener-supported WUOT is a member of NPR and a Public Radio International affiliate. The station’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news, and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and streams on the web at wuot.org. WUOT’s second audio channel, WUOT-2, is available on HD Radio, Internet radio, and the Web.