By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)– Students at Denver School for the Arts are putting the spotlight, literally, on the AIDS/HIV epidemic. On Thursday night the play “The Normal Heart” opened, which tells the story of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

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(credit: CBS)

“Nobody wanted to talk about it and when this was happening nothing was being done about it. This play addresses that,” said Marie-Antoinette Banks, a sophomore at the school.

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Marie-Antoinette Banks (credit: CBS)

She plays Dr. Emma Brookner, a physician who took care of patients with HIV and fought for research into the then unknown virus. For Marie-Antoinette, this is much more than a play.

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(credit: CBS)

“My cousin was born with HIV and the doctors told her she wouldn’t live to be past two. She’s kind of like a medical miracle and she takes her medicine and she’s healthy and she’s doing great,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

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(credit: CBS)

She says this play has helped her understand what life has been like for her cousin and others. In addition to the play, the school is displaying four panels of the AIDS quilt that was displayed in Washington, DC in the 80s. Each one tells the story of someone who lost his or her life.

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(credit: CBS)

“It’s really emotional to look at just to read all the names and to know they were real people who lived and who died from this terrible disease no one wanted to talk about,” said Banks.

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(credit: CBS)

LINK: Denver Public Schools

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(credit: CBS)

Dominic Garcia anchors CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. Connect with the Denver native on Twitter @cbs4dom & on Facebook.

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