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Erika Slezak Library

CDC Sentinel for Health Award

ABC Daytime's "One Life To Live" Has Won The First-Ever CDC Sentinel For Health Award For A Daytime Drama

The ABC Daytime drama, "One Life to Live," won the first-ever Centers for Disease Control Sentinel for Health Award for a Daytime Drama in ceremonies that took place Saturday, Oct. 14, in Los Angeles. The storyline, "Viki's Breast Cancer," was selected from four finalists, all of which are ABC Daytime dramas. The announcement was made at Soap Summit V, an educational conference hosted by Population Communications International for writers, producers and network executives of daytime dramas.

In the award-winning storyline, Viki (Erika Slezak) was stunned to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer following a routine mammogram. The strong-willed newspaper publisher faced her greatest battle ever as she was forced to come to terms with the devastating disease without the support of her estranged fiance, Ben (Mark Derwin). She found comfort and strength from her children, and underwent a modified radical mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. "One Life to Live" devoted an entire episode to Viki, as she prepared to enter the hospital. Viki later dealt with the devastating effects of chemotherapy, which included the loss of her hair. Viki and Ben finally reconciled and she was able to share her fears and triumphs with the man she loves. This powerful story is ongoing, as "One Life to Live" is committed to following through with Viki's difficult journey.

ABC Daytime's other nominated storylines were the "Matt Walks" storyline on "Port Charles," which dealt with the misconceptions of disability; "All My Children's" story of "Drunk Driving Revisited," which explores the impact of drunk driving on family members over time; and "Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS Awareness" on "General Hospital," which combined prevention messages with the positive effect the dedication of a community can have on raising awareness of this deadly disease.

The Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama recognizes exemplary achievements of daytime dramas that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives. For many loyal viewers, daytime dramas provide both entertainment and incidental information about disease, injury and disability. Through their portrayals of characters' lives, writers and producers have a unique opportunity to touch viewers' lives. The way a popular character deals with a personal health decision and its impact can nfluence audience members to think about their own choices. A compelling storyline that demonstrates risky behavior and consequences, or shows how to avoid risk, can benefit millions of viewers and their loved ones.

The Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama was developed by the CDC and is supported by the CDC Foundation to encourage more health storylines and more accurate portrayals of health topics in daytime drama. CDC analysis of data from the 1999 Healthstyles Survey shows that nearly half of regular viewers of soap operas report that they have learned about a disease or how to prevent it from a soap opera, and more than one-third have taken some action as a result.

"One Life to Live," created by Agnes Nixon, launched July 15, 1968. The popular drama consistently ranks among the top five in the key demographic of Women 18-49. "One Life to Live" airs MONDAY-FRIDAY (2:00-3:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Jill Farren Phelps is the executive producer; Megan McTavish is the head writer.

ABC Daytime Media Relations:
Nancy Sherman (212) 456-7749

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