In Washington, D.C., more than 14,000 residents -- or 2.7 percent of the population -- are living with HIV. This exceeds the World Health Organization's definition of one percent as a generalized epidemic. African Americans are disproportionately impacted, at 4.3 percent. While the epidemic has been well-documented by numerous media outlets, no one has looked at how the epidemic affects children and youth in the nation's capital, until now. "Youth and HIV", a three-part series that aired on WAMU on July 23 through July 25, 2012, was reported by special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza.
Cardoza overcame the immense challenges of finding and convincing children and teenagers diagnosed with HIV (and their parents) to share their stories on the radio. There is a great deal of shame involved, and some teenagers had not even told their parents of their diagnosis. Some agreed to talk, but most teenagers refused to be recorded. And dozens of times a student or parent would agree to be interviewed, only to change their mind at the last moment. But Cardoza persisted and as a result, each segment features the intimacy of these youth telling their own stories about their lives.
The Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. distributed 25,000 CDs containing Cardoza's series to delegates at the AIDS 2012: XIX International AIDS Conference. She was invited to produce a piece to run on NPR. "Know Your HIV Status? D.C.'s Asking" ran on Weekend Edition Saturday on July 21, 2012. Slate referenced one of the pieces in Parents Just Don't Understand by Emily Yoffe on August 4, 2012. Cardoza was invited to speak about her work, including the series, at outside events including at "Engage Parents and Ethnic Communities in Education Reform" organized by New America Media and the National Poverty Conference, cosponsored by Demos, CBPP and the Georgetown Poverty Center.
We feel confident that this series has helped inform and educate our listeners about a critical public health issue affected our most vulnerable residents, and we're proud to submit it in the Outstanding Documentary or In-Depth Reporting category.