By Bob Adams
Originally published on Advocate.com November 20 2009 4:35 PM ET
Being in the public eye is nothing new for Devin Robinson, a passionate 26-year-old Florida activist better known by the monikers "Egypt" and "Devin T. Robinson X." Robinson regularly takes the stage in front of hundreds of young people to perform his one-man confessional narrative "God Did Not Give Me HIV" to help spread HIV awareness among at-risk African-Americans. He's performed all or parts of the show more than 1,000 times in 26 U.S. states and as far away as Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, and South Africa.
But for World AIDS Day, on December 1, Robinson will step up to a whole new level-the silver screen. He will premiere a film version of his one-man show that he has redubbed God, Me...HIV? at the Cinema Paradiso movie theater in Broward County, the region of South Florida with the second highest number of HIV cases per capita.
"I want to reach as many people as I can with these powerful stories and messages," says Robinson, who also founded the group AIDS Awareness Poets and publishes his original poetry on HIVPLUSmag.com. "I can do that live in only so many places; I'm just one man. But a movie? That's going to reach such a bigger audience."
To encourage attendance at the film's four World AIDS Day screenings, cable TV giant Comcast helped Robinson tape several ad spots and donated local commercial air time on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BET, MTV, Spike TV, and many other channels. All told, the ads will air more than 5,000 times in the weeks leading up to December 1.
Filmgoers at the Florida screenings will be offered free HIV testing at each theater as well as free condoms provided by LifeStyles and information about safer sex and HIV prevention from the state health department and other area AIDS service organizations.
"This is the first movie ever screened in the United States where HIV tests will be available on site," Robinson notes. "I usually have local organizations offer tests outside my stage performances and get as many as 100 to be inspired enough to get tested on the spot. The movie is taking it to the next step; hopefully, we'll get more than a thousand people to learn their HIV status that day."
A video crew also will be on hand to tape the reaction of audience members during the screenings. That new footage will be added to the film, which Robinson hopes to take to theaters nationwide for World AIDS Day, 2010, and to make available for purchase online and through movie-rental services.
"It's going to be huge!" Robinson says enthusiastically. "This is just the beginning. I'm not going to stop until every single person at risk for HIV sees this, gets tested, and becomes a soldier in the fight against AIDS. We can do it! We have the power to end it!"