It is another awareness day.
Another awareness year come and gone.
On Dec 31st, Stephen Lewis’s tenure as UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa comes to an end. For five and a half years, he’s criss-crossed Africa and the world at breakneck speed. His crammed schedule has included endless speeches and high level meetings with Presidents, UN officials and anyone who will listen to his impassioned plea for Africa. Possessing an intricate knowledge of the continent, he's made countless visits to grassroots projects: they give him great hope but also disturb him most deeply because the spectre of death is still everywhere. Each death haunts him. He rarely sleeps on these epic journeys – in fact it's not clear when he gets any rest at all.
The Nature of Things has already made 2 documentaries following Stephen Lewis's work in Africa (Race Against Time, 2001 & The Value of Life, 2003). Both won many awards, and The Value of Life raised $120,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Now we set out again with an indefatigable Stephen Lewis on one of his last missions, to assess the global response and continue his own emotional-roller coaster journey. With him we visit South Africa and Lesotho. We see his delight and pain at witnessing the strength and carnage at the grassroots level. In Lesotho, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic, there is new optimism. Lazarus-like, the sick are rising from their deathbeds, thanks to a rollout of antiretroviral drugs.
Stephen Lewis: The man who couldn't sleep
Special Edition: Airing Wednesday December 6 at 8pm on CBC-TV
Watch an excerpt (Runs: 5:17)