Joel A. Berger Award

MTV News Now: Sex, School & Scandal

MTV News

The Joel A. Berger Award recognizes an outstanding public-affairs initiative that creates AIDS awareness in local communities. The award is named after Berger, the former publisher of Cablevision
magazine, who died from AIDS in 1995.

CTPAA is proud to honor MTV News as the recipient of this year's award for its program MTV News Now: Sex, School & Scandal, part of its "Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself" sexual-health campaign.

Nikko Briteramos, an 18-year-old basketball player at Si Tanka-Huron University, is one of the most popular guys on campus. An African-American from Chicago who was transplanted to a mostly white, rural community, Nikko is seen as charming and urban by his classmates and has no problem hooking up with his pick of women.

Nikko ends up having unprotected sex with many women during his first year at school.

Then the game changes. After giving blood in March, Nikko is contacted by the Health Department and told he has tested positive for the HIV virus. A month later, when state health officials come knocking on his dorm room to see how he is coping with his diagnosis, they discover he's still having unprotected sex with his girlfriend at the time. They arrest him later that day. Charged with three counts of knowingly exposing someone to the HIV virus, Nikko now faces up to 75 years in jail.

Health officials start tracking Nikko's trail of partners — and their partners — and the testing begins.

Two hundred people get tested for HIV. Four people ultimately test positive for the virus. Prairie Blacksmith, a 20-year-old Native American student who casually and occasionally slept with Nikko throughout the year, is one of them.

A soft-spoken woman who was raised on an Indian reservation in the western part of the state, Prairie still considers Nikko one of her best friends.

Through interviews with Prairie, Nikko's closest friends and family, as well as many other young people in Huron, S.D., MTV News Now: Sex, School & Scandal follows the story of how HIV came to a small college town and changed everyone's life. This special episode, hosted by MTV News correspondent Gideon Yago, tracks how Nikko becomes the first person ever convicted in South Dakota of intentionally exposing another to HIV.