Members hope 'Pedro' will raise HIV awareness

Members of Congress joined John Murray, the co-creator of the popular MTV show "The Real World," on Tuesday night for a sneak preview of “Pedro,” a film that honors a 1994 "Real World" housemate and activist who fell victim to AIDS.

Gathered together among hors d'oeuvres and cocktails in the elegant Library of Congress, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and attendees from Planned Parenthood, MTV and the Kaiser Foundation used the film to jumpstart an effort to revive AIDS awareness and activism.

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Pedro Zamora, the Cuban-American who is the basis for the film, was once a constituent of Hastings's in his hometown of Miami. On Tuesday, Hastings took the opportunity to introduce a resolution to Congress commemorating the life and legacy of Zamora.

“Pedro was courageous and inspired millions of individuals during his short life,” Hastings told the rapt crowd. “He put a face on this deadly disease and inspired others to confront their ignorance.”

Schakowsky elaborated on this point, saying, “The campaign to raise AIDS awareness is desperately needed, especially upon hearing the recent news that 3 percent of D.C. is infected with the disease.”

The crowd cheered loudly when Schakowsky expressed her personal relief at the fact that the U.S. “finally has a president in the White House who will pass affordable healthcare,” and therefore help those who may be suffering from this disease and other ailments.

Murray explained that he looks specifically for cast members who have a voice and a unique experience that can potentially affect the lives of people watching the show, which is why he selected Pedro, the HIV-positive activist, in 1994. Zamora died the day after that season's final episode aired.

Wine in hand, Murray expressed his hope that the film might spur action and help raise awareness for AIDS, something he believes is lacking in today’s society.

“With HIV rates consistently going up, this film is debuting at just the right time, even though it took four years to produce,” Murray said.

“Pedro” will debut to a national audience Wednesday night on MTV.