A film’s approach

The film Precious (Classification 15) is a powerful, hopeful film about a girl born into a life no one would want, with parents who abuse her emotionally and physically.

The issue of HIV transmission is addressed in Precious in the context of sexual abuse. Precious has contracted HIV from her father who regularly raped her but it is not passed on to Abdul, her second child resulting from the rapes.

Look closely at the following stills from and posters for the film. From these images, what can you infer about Precious and Mary (her mother)?

Now read these transcribed extracts in which characters refer to HIV or AIDS. They each appear at different stages in the film.

EXTRACT 1
Mother (Mary) to Precious: Your daddy dead.
Precious: That all?
Mother: He had that AIDS virus.

EXTRACT 2
Precious: You got it?
Mother: What?
Precious: The AIDS virus.
Mother: No
Precious: How do you know?
Mother: We never did it up the ass so I know
Precious: You better get to a doctor mom.

EXTRACT 3
In Precious’ literacy class
Precious [to class]: They say I’m HIV positive.
[Classmates all look shocked and remain silent] I ain’t got nothing to write today
Classmate: Is your baby okay?
Precious: Yeah, I just gotta stop breast feeding him.

  • From reading the transcribed dialogue, what (if anything) do we learn about how HIV is transmitted?
  • What myths about HIV transmission are illustrated here?
  • What do you think about the way Precious chose to disclose her HIV status to her classmates?

For more discussion about questions of disclosure go to stigma and disclosure.