This documentary traces, over a 15-month period, the ravaging impact AIDS has on the Strenger family of rural Pennsylvania. Bill Strenger narrates the video. He, along with his son, was infected by his wife, Donna, who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion.
The hostility the Stenger family faces from their community is rendered in Bill’s on-camera soliloquy. Frightened neighbors blocked the Strenger’s son, Craig, from attending school. Bill is violently assaulted in a local parking lot.
“I know its wrong,” Bill directly addresses the camera, “but if you test positive for AIDS, don’t tell anyone. Look what’s happened to us.”
When Donna starts to show full-blown symptoms of AIDS – including signs of dementia – she must leave the family, and Bill quits his job to care for his sons. The film documents their isolation, loss of friends, and the eventual breakdown of their marriage.
When the Family Gets AIDS is a powerful depiction of our society’s newest form of prejudice, as well as moving expression of one man’s response to the demands of parenting. The viewer witnesses many of the family’s tragic trials, but also their courage and love.