"Vice Special Report: Countdown to Zero" looks at Medical Breakthroughs & Challenges that remain in ending HIV/AIDS

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27 November 2015
Vice Special Report: Countdown to Zero
Photo: Courtesy of HBO
"Vice Special Report: Countdown to Zero"
Premieres Tuesday, December 1 at 9:00 pm ET/PT exclusively on HBO

Special Offers An Expansive Look At Revolutionary Medical Breakthroughs And
Challenges That Remain In Ending HIV/AIDS Worldwide
In-Depth Report Features Interviews With Policymakers, Activists,
Researchers and Patients Leading The Quest For An AIDS-Free World,
Including President George W. Bush and Bono
            Humanity may be on the cusp of the first AIDS-free generation in decades. Research into a cure is progressing at a remarkable pace, and this treatable disease is now being beaten in global hot spots by access to health care and prevention methods.

            Ranging from high-tech American labs, where the DNA of HIV-positive patients is being edited to resist the virus, to South African clinics that are participating in the largest vaccine trial in history, VICE SPECIAL REPORT: COUNTDOWN TO ZERO goes inside the search for the cure and a preventative vaccine that could eliminate AIDS. Hosted by VICE founders and correspondents Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, the timely special debuts on World AIDS Day, TUESDAY, DEC. 1 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

            From President George W. Bush and Bono, the lead singer of U2 and co-founder of (RED) and ONE, to the clinicians and patients who are battling HIV and AIDS every day, VICE interviews the world’s leading HIV/AIDS activists. Smith sits down with President Bush at the Bush Institute on SMU’s campus in Dallas to discuss the success of the United States-led PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) initiative, perhaps the greatest legacy of his presidency, and Alvi travels to Rwanda with Bono to see PEPFAR in action.

            In Rwanda, Alvi sees firsthand the progress that has been made. Infection rates have been cut in half and mother-to-child HIV transmission is completely eliminated in some regions. South Africa, however, provides a discouraging contrast, because much work remains to be done in stemming the disease there.

            Then, VICE takes a deep dive into the world of HIV/AIDS research to learn just how close we are to discovering a cure and vaccine. Smith visits the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Dr. Carl June’s cutting-edge lab at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Anthony Fauci, renowned immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explains why this research is pivotal.
            While we may be on the threshold of a cure, the disease is still ravaging communities in America today, particularly among gay men and intravenous drug users. VICE travels to San Francisco and Indiana, the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States, to bring attention to the work that still needs to be done and to highlight why, despite the progress to date, the fight is not over yet.

            “As with our specials on prison reform and fighting cancer this year, Shane and his team at VICE are shining a light on a major social issue of this era,” notes Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “VICE is passionate about the stories they tell, and we are grateful we can translate that energy into raising awareness of this epidemic to our audience and beyond.”

            “HIV is the epidemic of our modern age,” says Smith. “We’re on the brink of scientific developments that will end the disease for good — but it isn’t gone yet. Millions are still being infected every year. This documentary is a comprehensive look at the state of HIV/AIDS today, how far we’ve come in fighting it, and how far we still have to go.”

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