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PROGRAM ONE: AIDS 101
To ensure that listeners of the Africa Learning Channel have access to accurate information about the transmission and occurrence of HIV/AIDS, this program - the first in a series of 24 AIDS education and prevention shows - presents a primer on the disease. The first information expert we hear is Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, who debunks the myth in Africa that HIV/AIDS is a disease that primarily affects western countries, homosexuals or intravenous drug users. President Museveni describes how prevention and education initiatives in his country effectively reversed Uganda's infection rate, which in 1986, was the highest in the world. He also suggests that each citizen should become a public health expert to know as much as possible about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent its spread.

Other informants heard in this program include Iyeme Efem, who has been active in HIV/AIDS education for over 10 years and who describes HIV/AIDS and how it is transmitted. Rhoi Wangila, founder of the Ark Foundation of Africa, suggests that inadequate infrastructure, limited resources and poverty in Africa contribute in many ways to the spread of the disease. Both informants discuss the factors that make women and youth the most vulnerable and at-risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Efem and Wangila agree that improving the economic status of women must also be addressed if prevention efforts against the epidemic are to be effective. In summary, Efem, Wangila and President Museveni agree that every person needs to be active and proactive in the war against HIV/AIDS, and should aggressively seek to educate others as well.

PROGRAM TWO: CONDOMS
In this program, listeners learn the ABC's of HIV/AIDS prevention - abstinence, being faithful and condom use (or use of other barrier devices). Florence Zake of Population Services International (PSI), a specialist in social marketing, tells listeners that since heterosexual sex is the primary means through which HIV/AIDS is transmitted in Africa, the most effective and efficient means of minimizing exposure to the virus is condom use. She also describes what condoms are and why they have proven to be effective as a barrier against HIV/AIDS transmission. Zake admits that the negotiation of condom use is often difficult because it requires open discussion about sex. In addition, to be fully effective as a prevention tool, women must be empowered to initiate and implement safe sex practices - including condom use - with their mates. The reasons why condom use is avoided are also discussed. These include issues of trust, morality and doubts about its effectiveness.

Also in this program, Nisiadet Mason, a Kenyan woman who is Director of International Programs for the National Association of People with AIDS, gives practical instructions on using condoms correctly, as well as proper condom disposal. In addition, there is information about the female condom, which, although more expensive than the male condom, give more control to women in making decisions about safe sex. Both Zake and Mason conclude that condoms are a life-saving necessity in light of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, and must be used consistently and correctly.

PROGRAM THREE: PEOPLE LIVING WITH AIDS (PLWA)
How do we move past the statistics about the disease and its devastating spread throughout Africa, and remain hopeful? Mozambican social scientist Graca Machel prescribes that in order to come to grips with the impact of HIV/AIDS, we have to give it a human face. We have to hear the stories of people who are living with AIDS, and put ourselves in their shoes and those of their loved ones. In this edition of the Africa Learning Channel, part of the "Breaking the Silence" segment of the WSF-Africare HIV/AIDS education and prevention radio series, we hear compelling stories of several Africans of different walks of life as they describe their experiences living with HIV/AIDS. All of the people heard in this program, comprised of speeches and interviews recorded at the 2000 African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, had decided of their own accord to go public and speak out about their experiences as people living with HIV/AIDS.

We hear from a housewife in Zimbabwe who lost her husband and child to HIV/AIDS. She tells us how she overcame her belief that the disease targets only people who are promiscuous, when she herself contracted HIV. We also hear from an HIV-positive, single mother in Malawi who says her young children are discriminated against because she has "come out" about her status. Two activists - Clement Mafuze, founder of the Network of Zambian People Living with AIDS and Charlotte Mjele, a 23-year old from South Africa - describe the process of notifying their friends and family, and then going public. As we hear in their stories of strength and resolve, the consistent theme is that HIV/AIDS is not necessarily a death sentence. Instead, it can be an opportunity for growth. It is therefore important to get tested in order to know your status, and to avoid engaging in risky behaviors. It is also important for communities to support all of their members, including those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

PROGRAM FOUR: MEN AND AIDS
In 2001, the United Nations agency, UNAIDS, and the London-based Panos Institute published a report titled, "Young Men and HIV: Culture, Poverty and Sexual Risk." It followed a global Men Make a Difference campaign launched by UNAIDS to actively recruit men and adolescent boys to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. The UN report on male sexual activity stated that many factors, "... such as sex with more than one partner and without a condom, and social conditions such as poverty discourage people from protecting themselves. But one of the strongest influences on how quickly the AIDS epidemic spreads is the sexual behavior and attitudes of men." These factors are explored in this one-hour radio program as well as the ways men are socialized relative to their sexuality. Also, different views are presented on the impact and importance of traditional or cultural practices in sexual behavior and the spread of AIDS. In addition, listeners will hear what men and organizations and efforts they lead are trying to do to reverse men's risky behaviors. Other views are expressed about topics such as how alcohol or social drinking may be a contributing factor to lax sexual behavior and vulnerability to the virus. We will also hear about the activities of a men's group in Ghana called "Men's Voices, Men's Choices" through which truck-drivers and push-cart sellers act as peer educators talking to other men about condom use and safe sex. Content for this program was provided by United Nations Radio and Interworld News Service. Experts heard in this radio show were recorded at the African Development Forum Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

PROGRAM FIVE: GENDER AND AIDS
HOW AIDS AFFECTS WOMEN IN AFRICA
While Africa is shouldering disproportionate losses associated with the world AIDS pandemic, women and girls are at greatest risk and are bearing the largest burden. According to statistics made available by the United Nations, 55% of all people who are HIV positive in Africa are female. And young women are getting infected with the HIV virus at much younger ages than their male counterparts. The theories for why women and young girls in Africa are the most vulnerable for contracting the disease are examined in this one-hour radio program on the Africa Learning Channel and contributing factors such as poverty, limited access to education and health services, and discrimintation against women are discussed. In addition, it is suggested that unequal power relations or male dominance result in women feeling they cannot say no to unwanted or unprotected sex. The myth that a man can be cured of AIDS by having sex with a virgin is also debunked. We hear the views of many men and women regarding the extent to which traditional or customary practices may be accelerating the spread of AIDS and women's vulnerability to the disease. This radio program includes excerpts from a United Nations panel on gender issues convened at the UN Special Session on AIDS. In addition, music performed by a group of woman living with AIDS who use song as a form of therapy is featured. Other content heard in this program was provided by Panost Institute from the AIDS Today series, and by Bush Radio of South Africa. Interviews were also recorded at the Africa Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.

PROGRAM SIX: AIDS AND EDUCATION
Adolescents - young people and teenagers who are just becoming sexually active -- are at greatest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. that according to statistics from UNAIDS. The United Nations agency reports that half of all new infections in the world are occurring among the fifteen to twenty-four year old age group. Thus, it is urgent that information and messages are targeted and tailored to young people to give them the skills, knowledge and services to protect themselves against the virus. This is especially true in Africa and in developing countries where large proportions of the population are under the age of 21. Gambia is one country that has incorporated HIV prevention as part of its formal education program in public schools. African youth may be even more vulnerable given that many teachers in sub-Saharan Africa are absent from school because of AIDS related illnesses or caring for family members. The issues, as well as how HIV/AIDS related absenteeism is affecting AIDS education strategies for youth, teacher training in AIDS prevention, and whether AIDS education for young people should be based in schools or in other community settings are discussed in this edition of the Africa Learning Channel. We hear the views of the Secretary of State for the Gambia and the Deputy Secretary for Education in Namibia among others, and also visit a church-based HIV education program for youth in South Africa. Content heard in this program was provided by Bush Radio of South Africa and was recorded at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children.

PROGRAM SEVEN: PREVENTION MESSAGES FOR YOUTH
This program examines the messages, programs and policies that promote positive messages to young people about HIV/AIDS prevention and minimizing risky behavior, as well as those messages and images that might hinder effective prevention education and behavior change. The influence of advertising, popular culture, music and music videos are discussed. A producer for the South African-based M-NET and its program of contemporary music videos argues that youth have a right to watch diverse cultural representations, even if some are sexually explicit. Examples of positive applications of media and popular culture in AIDS education are presented, such as:Capitol Doctor, a radio program in Uganda, a newspaper in Zambia called "Trendsetter," and a glossy magazine in Tanzania called "Femina HIP." Young people say these sources of objective information are invaluable because of the difficulty the experience in attempting to discuss sex and sensitive relationship issues with their parents. Educational experts and peer educators also examine the practicality of the abstinence message, the age of sexual debut for young people, and how to fashion mesages about sexual responsibility and use of condoms for youth. In some school systems, formal HIV/AIDS education may be limited. Educators in Zimbabwe say HIV/AIDS prevention information is presented to children in school as young as eight years old. According to the United Nations, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS may be as high as 33% of the population in Zimbabwe, where representatives of the Catholic Church have lobbied against implementation of an HIV/AIDS curriculum targeting youth in that country's school. That controversy is aired in this edition of the Africa Learning Channel. Content heard in this program was provided by Bush Radio of South Africa, PANOS Institute, Democracy Radio, and the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service. Content was also recorded at United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on Children, as well as HIV/AIDS, and also at the Africa Development Forum.

PROGRAM EIGHT: OVERCOMING STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION
The United Nations has launched a global campaign to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS worldwide with a two-year campaign beginning on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2002. The slogan is "Live and Let Live" and the intent is to minimize HIV/AIDS associated fear, shame, ignorance and injustice that are major obstacles to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The targets of stigma and discrimination are typically people who are living with HIV and AIDS (PLWA) and their families who are ostracized and treated unfairly by loved ones, their communities, employers, businesses or institutions. Stigma and discrimination may take the form of people being denied services, especially health care, employment being terminated, and experiences of hostility, harassment, and even physical abuse. But everyone suffers as a result of stigma and discrimination, because they perpetuate denial and misinformation about HIV/AIDS, and therefore accelerate the spread of the disease. In support of the human rights and dignity of people living with a positive status and their families, this program on the Africa Learning Channel features their voices and stories. Some are describing the suffering caused by stigma and discrimination, and others describe the support they have received from family and friends, and organizations and support groups for PLWA. We hear from lawyers in Kenya and South Africa who describe the legal protections that should be institutionalized to outlaw HIV/AIDS associated discrimination and human rights abuses. We also hear the detailed accounts of people who describe how they responded to the news that they were HIV positive, how they are living with the disease and living positive lives. We also hear the details of the work of support groups like Positive Action in Lesotho and Positive Muslims in South Africa. The role of the media and AIDS journalism is also discussed in shaping opinions and advancing or retarding HIV/AIDS prevention and the fight against the pandemic. Content in this special World AIDS Day program supporting the campaign to fight stigma and disrimination was provided by Bush Radio, the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service, and Health-e. Audio was also collected at the Africa Development Forum, and United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on Children, and on HIV/AIDS.

PROGRAM NINE: RISKY BEHAVIORS
Youth of the world, especially in Africa, are considered the most vulnerable for contracting HIV/AIDS because of risky behaviors that put them at great risk. In this edition of the Africa Learning Channel, the attitudes and behaviors that make young people susceptible to the virus are examined, as well as the consequences and causative factors. Alcohol consumption is examined as a possible contributor to early sexual debut and casual or unprotected sex. Predatory sexual behavior among young men is one risky behavior that contributes to the spread of the virus and young men in Kenya and elsewhere suggest that poverty and boredom must be overcome, and jobs and training oportunities as well as sports and other recreational activities must be readily available so that youth don't fall into life-threatening patterns. Prostitution and sex work are also examined as high-risk behaviors patterns that result from proverty and limited economic opportunities for girls and young women. This program include profiles of youth led programs and initiatives that are designed to limit and stop risk behaviors by giving young people information and support. One such program called HEART, or Helping Each Other Act Responsibility Together, targets young people in Zambia with an abstinence message, and advocates for young people to resist peer pressure to engage in sex. Content in this program was provided by BUSH Radio, the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service, the World Bank and Interworld. Audio was also collected at the Africa Development Forum.

 

 


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