Doc­u­men­tary ex­plores ‘The Other City’ in D.C.

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

You might think that liv­ing within spit­ting dis­tance of the pol­i­cy­mak­ers and leg­is­la­tors who iden­tify and fund health­care pri­or­i­ties would make you more vis­i­ble if you’re part of a pop­u­la­tion in des­per­ate need of at­ten­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and ser­vices. But a new doc­u­men­tary fo­cus­ing on the high num­bers of Washington, D.C., res­i­dents liv­ing with HIV/AIDS sug­gests that prox­im­ity and ac­cess are hardly syn­ony­mous in the health­care world.

“The Other City,” which de­buted last week at the an­nual Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val in New York, was di­rected by filmmaker Su­san Koch and writ­ten by for­mer Washington Post re­porter Jose An­to­nio Var­gas. The doc­u­men­tary takes a look at the 30-year-old HIV/AIDS epi­demic in the nation’s cap­i­tal, where at least 3% of the pop­u­la­tion is in­fected with the dis­ease.

The film jux­ta­poses HIV/AIDS-pos­i­tive Washington res­i­dents—who are largely African-Amer­i­can, fre­quently Latino and, in this case, most of­ten poor—nav­i­gat­ing an in­creas­ingly scarce sys­tem of hous­ing, treat­ment and sup­port ser­vices against law­mak­ers who are grow­ing less sym­pa­thetic and in­ter­ested in ad­dress­ing the epi­demic. At one point the film shows Rep. Todd Ti­ahrt (R-Kan.), rank­ing mem­ber of the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on La­bor, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­lated Agen­cies, say­ing on the House floor that he “didn’t force peo­ple to use il­le­gal drugs” or have sex with HIV-pos­i­tive part­ners.

Among those fea­tured promi­nently in the movie is Ron Daniels, right, di­rec­tor of a nee­dle ex­change pro­gram in D.C.

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