National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day- Broken Heart Land and Community Panel

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Charleston Premiere screening of the documentary “Broken Heart Land” and a Community Q&A Panel discussion afterwards.  The film explores the responses of a young  gay teen’s suicide in Oklahoma because he was unable to disclose to his family and community his HIV positive status.  The film highlights  the need for community acceptance and directly addresses  the critical issues of HIV/AIDS Awareness, lack of comprehensive sex education, and LGBT rights throughout America where issues are still considered taboo.

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Community Panel will consist of Melissa Moore (We Are Family), Salome Seraphin (Youth Group Facilitator, SC Contraceptive Access Campaign), Chase Hawes (Team Leader, Center for Excellence in Peer Education at College of Charleston) and Michael Davis (Youth HIV Community Activist) and will be moderated by Topher Larkin (Charleston Area World AIDS Day & Lowcountry AIDS Services)

Lowcountry AIDS Services will provide free & confidential HIV testing for the evening

When / Where:

·  Tuesday April 7th, 6:30pm welcome reception begins at College of Charleston Robert Smalls Building Room 235 (66 George Street) and HIV testing will be offered

·  7:00pm – screening begins

·  8:30pm – Community panel to discuss film themes and how it relates to local issue

·  9:00pm – wrap up

·  Event sponsors include We Are Family, Lowcountry AIDS Services, MUSC’s EMPOWERR Program, Roper St. Francis Ryan White, College of Charleston Black Student Union and Cougar Counseling Team, and the Charleston World AIDS Day Committee

About the event:

  • In the United States, young people between the ages of 13-29 represent nearly 40% of all new HIV infections. Of those new infections, African – American youth and young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are most at risk: nearly 60 percent of new infections in young people are among African Americans, while 87 percent of infections among young males are in YMSM. Many of these youth are at higher risk due to factors they have little control over, including lack of access to health care, and sexuality education that does not address their needs.

·  South Carolina ranks 8th in the nation in the rate of new AIDS cases annually.

·  Columbia ranks 6th in the nation among large metropolitan areas in the rate of new AIDS cases. Charleston is 15th.  All three SC metro ­areas are in the top 50% of new cases, nationally.

·  In 2011, for the 4th year in a row South Carolina ranks 1st in the nation in heterosexual transmission.

·  This generation of youth is the first generation to never know a world without HIV/AIDS.

·  On April 7, young people from Charleston will gather to educate other young people and the wider community about the necessity of engaging young people on the topic of HIV & AIDS.

·   “HIV/AIDS is a disease of young people, of elders, of the wealthy, and of those who struggle to make ends meet. It’s a disease of gay and straight people. It is not bound by age, class, or any other demographic distinctions. Our youth are getting infected at an alarming rate, and we need to engage them in the fight to end this disease,” said Melissa Moore, Executive Director of We Are Family.

·  “This event in important because of the alarming rate of new infections within the teenage and youth demographics.  By shining light on the awareness of what is happening in our own Charleston community, hopefully youth are able to properly educate themselves and their peers in promoting safe behavior,” said Topher Larkin of the Charleston World AIDS Day Committee.

National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Founding Partners:

Advocates for Youth; Adolescent AIDS Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center; AIDS Alabama; AIDS Alliance for Childr en, Youth & Families; AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland; AIDS United; Hetrick – Martin Institute; Metro TeenAIDS; National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD); National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD); National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition; National Minority AIDS Council; and Sexuality Information and Information Council of the United States (SIECUS). For more information on NYHAAD follow @YouthAIDSDay on Twitter and In stagram, like National Youth HIV & AIDS Day on Facebook , and online at

About We Are Family:

We Are Family provides direct support and leadership development opportunities to LGBT and straight ally youth. We Are Family hosts a group for LGBT and straight ally youth every Tuesday night from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Meeting House at Circular Congregational Church. For more information, visit

About Lowcountry AIDS Services:

Lowcountry AIDS Services (LAS), located in North Charleston, offers services of prevention, counseling, treatment, housing, and legal help for those affected with HIV/AIDS in the tri-county area.  For more information about Lowcountry AIDS Services please visit:

About Charleston Area World AIDS Day Committee:

The Charleston Area World AID Day Committee is composed of dedicated community members from many walks of life who are committed to locally fighting against HIV/AIDS.  They invite any member of the public to educate themselves and their community in stopping the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.


The EMPOWERR Program (Ethnic Minority Prevention Outreach and Web-Based Education for Risk Reduction) is a part of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC.  EMPOWERR provides evidence-based programs to youth serving agencies in the Charleston area and education to the public through community events and on social media. All services provided to the community are free of charge.

About Broken Heart Land:

You can see a trailer of the film here

Broken Heart Land had its broadcast premiere earlier this year, as part of PBS’ World Channel’s America Reframed series.

You can learn more about the film and campaign by visiting their website at: or by joining their community on facebook at: