AIDS used to be the big cause. In the 90’s, red ribbons were quite the fashionable accessory for many people looking to promote education of a virus that was killing millions of people all over the world. Since then, promoting regular AIDS testing and safe sex has been put on the back burner, which has given many people the impression that the epidemic is over. Unfortunately, it isn’t which is probably why the Lifetime Channel is giving us a refresher course on the dangers of unprotected sex with an original movie, titled Girl, Positive.

Girl, Positive stars Jennie Garth (‘Beverly Hills, 90210’) and Andrea Bowen (‘Desperate Housewives’) and centers on a high school student who realizes that she might have HIV. Rachel is a typical high school girl. She’s had two sexual partners, one of whom was a one-night stand and the other is her boyfriend. The one-night-stand guy was Jason, a revered football player and virtual celebrity at their high school. After Jason is killed in a car accident, someone leaks information that he was a heroin addict. In addition to this, a mysterious person messages Rachel telling her that Jason was HIV-positive. Whether he contracted the virus before she had unprotected sex with him, Rachel does not know but its clear to her that there’s a good chance she could have it too now.

Garth plays a substitute teacher at Rachel’s high school. She is living with HIV though she doesn’t regularly tell people this. She doesn’t seem to have many friends with the exception of some of the people at the local AIDS clinic where she volunteers. She looks healthy for the most part, though she does suffer from some of the nastier side effects of her ever-changing medicine regimen. Headaches, nausea and depression are among the ailments she suffers due to her anti-HIV cocktail.

On paper, this movie looks like just another after-school-special about the dangers of unsafe sex. But the actual movie seems to avoid that touchy-feely cheesiness for the most part. Throughout Rachel’s crisis, a video-blog is being produced at the high school, so many times we see her fellow high school students talking about their experiences with sex and their knowledge (or on many cases, lack thereof) of STDs. Through this, the movie addresses the common misconceptions that people have about AIDS. For example, people still think its mostly gay people contracting and spreading the disease.

In the end, the moral of the story is that it only takes one bad decision to mess your whole life up. The other moral is that people need to get tested even if they think there’s no chance they could have contracted HIV. Back when the AIDS epidemic was making front-page news, HIV was known to be a death sentence for all who had it. In this day and age, there are treatments that can allow people to live fairly normal lives for years and years – if they’re being treated.

As a movie, Girl, Positive is fairly entertaining and not nearly as preachy as it could have been, given the subject. The lessons we’re meant to learn from Girl, Positive are embedded in the story. The movie seems to go out of its way to appeal to kids and adults alike. Parents should not only watch this movie, they should bring their kids into the room and let them watch it as well.

Girl, Positive will air on Monday, June 25, at 9PM ET/PT on Lifetime Television

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