School’s out for summer vacation and she can mull over her decision. She spends time at Camp Heartland, a New Jersey retreat for kids with HIV and AIDS, and for the first time she’s with peers who gamely face her same problems.
Psycho-neuro-immunology, or the study of how the mind affects the immune system, comes to the fore as a National Institutes of Health doctor, posed in dramatically lit fashion, adds his deliberate opinion: “Now, I can’t help but believe that if a child’s overall well-being is in the best order it can be … and everything’s going in a kind of a positive way, that’s going to in some way help the course of her infection.”
Camp Heartland’s creator leads a Journey of Hope in which a collection of infected kids travel to Disney World, all the way telling school kids about their situation.
Preparing the way for the announcement, Angelie’s parents enlighten her best friend’s parents; it’s an arresting scene. But Angelie herself wants to speak up , and docu shows her doing so: telling friends and her entire school (via a TV system) of her infection. Reactions are startlingly real. The news goes public with a local TV interview.
It’s iffy whether anyone will come to her 11th birthday party (they do); parents, teachers and medical personnel assemble to hear not only about the AIDS virus but about rights, fears and protection. Angelie’s doctor, who tells of people who have had the virus for 16-17 years, is right on the line revealing what’s known about the virus.
“Angelie’s Secret” tells lots about childhood AIDS and even more about human courage. The NIH doctor talks forthrightly about research problems and about how the virus grows. Best news is that the doctor’s statement about psycho-neuro-immunology appears to be correct: After she reveals her secret, Angelie’s immune cells stop declining.
Others’ stories are briefly covered, but it’s Angelie’s spunkiness, freshness and personality that carry the handsomely produced program. It’s not really a lesson in tolerance; it’s a strong lesson in truth, in worth and in friendship.