ON WORLD AIDS DAY, SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL(TM) INVESTIGATES THE TRUE ORIGINS OF A GLOBAL EPIDEMIC
"RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS" SPOTLIGHTS FIRST MASS OUTBREAK IN AFRICA IN THE 1960s
Special Premieres On Monday, December 1 At 8PM ET/PT
New York, November 25, 2014 - In the early 1980s a mysterious virus appeared to emerge on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its earliest victims were young gay men. What followed were years of fear, confusion and ignorance that only compounded the threat of HIV, which even today remains the biggest viral killer worldwide. Now, in RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS, premiering on World AIDS Day, Monday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel, a scientific investigation reveals the true origins of AIDS. Where it came from, how it spread, and how the first true HIV hot zone was not in America, but thousands of miles and an ocean away in central Africa. It's a story that holds powerful lessons for the current Ebola crisis and the emergence of the next deadly virus.
Nearly 36 million people have died of AIDS, and another 35 million live with the virus. Since HIV first made headlines in the U.S. in the 1980s, scientists have followed a forensic trail to discover where it was born and how it spread. After decades of research, a stunning truth has emerged. HIV has been with us far longer than we think. In RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS Dr. Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona and medical researcher Dirk Teuwen, reveal their discovery of a full-blown outbreak of AIDS in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the 1960s, a full two decades before it emerged in America. The earliest variant of HIV appeared around as early as 1908, in the jungles of Cameroon.
Alongside the scientific detective story, RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS traces the history of the AIDS epidemic as it appeared in the headlines, from its early description as a "gay cancer" and rumor of a "patient zero" flight attendant, to the death of Hollywood icon Rock Hudson and 1992 retirement of basketball legend Magic Johnson. After nearly a decade of fear and denial, Tom Hanks' 1993 Academy Award(R) for Philadelphia was one sign that mainstream America had finally accepted the reality of HIV.
RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS looks not only into the past. Today, more than ever, humans reach into remote parts of the planet in their thirst for raw materials. This brings thousands of people into intimate contact with pathogens that were never seen in humans before. The world today is much more inter-connected than it was a century ago. Add a collapsing health infrastructure in the most likely hot zones of viral transmission - as the Ebola crisis has shown - and the threat of a new pandemic is perhaps larger than ever.
RISE OF THE KILLER VIRUS is directed by Carl Gierstorfer and produced by DOCDAYS Productions, YUZU Productions and CONGOO for Smithsonian Networks, ZDF/ARTE, CCTV 10, RTBF, and VRT. Charles Poe and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel. Antje Boehmert and Jean Boue are executive producers for DOCDAYS Productions.
Smithsonian Channel(TM), owned by Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME(R) with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network's offerings are series including Aerial America, L.A. Frock Stars, Secrets, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Civil War 360, 9/11: The Heartland Tapes; MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Find out more at www.smithsonianchannel.com.