As part of its continuing efforts to educate Chicagoans at risk for HIV infection, the Chicago Department of Public Health has produced a television show for gay and bisexual men of color. Kevin's Room is a 60-minute drama that explores issues such as gay relationships, HIV testing, HIV drug adherence, and sexual risk taking in the lives of African American gay men. The film also addresses cultural and community barriers which may contribute to poor health outcomes for gay men. These include coming out, family shame and religious issues.
In Chicago, HIV prevention strategies to reach African American gay men have had little impact on the number of new infections that occur each year. Rates of infection continue to rise in spite of medical advances which extend and enhance the lives of people with HIV.
Prevention strategies for men who have sex with men commonly include condom distribution through street outreach, group educational sessions and to a smaller degree prevention case management. While these interventions are critical, they are limited in scope and are have not stemmed the spread of HIV among African American MSM. Lack of services, inadequate marketing of current programming, shame and invisibility are just a few factors which contribute to the ongoing epidemic among gay and bisexual men of color.
Film distribution and use
The pilot episode of Kevin's Room is a stand-alone program filmed in super 16 millimeter film and can be shown to audiences in different venues. The program will debut on WPWR UPN Channel 50 on April 22, 2001. The program may also be available for selected film festivals and screenings and will be edited for use as a training tool for community based organizations, AIDS service providers, medical providers and other interested groups. A discussion guide is currently being developed along with a training curriculum. Pending available resources, Kevin's Room will be the springboard for future episodes of this compelling story.