- Music stars at this weekend’s MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) in Nairobi, Kenya, can have a significant impact in educating young people about HIV and changing their behaviour, a top UNAIDS official said today.
“The music stars at MTV Africa Music Awards can help fast-track awareness about HIV into the hearts and minds of African youth,” Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director Michel Sidibé said of tomorrow’s show, when protagonists in the fight against the pandemic will stand on stage as strong role models for young people.
Young people aged 15 to 24 account for 45 percent of new HIV infections worldwide. Many of them lack basic knowledge about HIV prevention. Data from 64 countries indicate that only 40 percent of males and 38 percent of females in this age group have accurate and comprehensive knowledge about HIV and how to avoid transmission.
Mr Sidibé congratulated MTV Networks International President Bill Roedy, former chairman of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, for his commitment to engaging the media in the AIDS response.
“Through our close partnership with MTV over the years, we have used innovative communication tools to educate young people about HIV and help break the cycle of stigma and discrimination associated with AIDS,” he said.
In 1998, UNAIDS partnered with MTV to launch the award-winning Staying Alive campaign. Ten years later, it has become the world’s largest, youth-focused, HIV prevention campaign. The multimedia campaign consists of films, documentaries, public service announcements, youth fora and web content produced for young audiences worldwide and available to third party broadcasters rights-free.
Staying Alive and MTV Base Africa are producing a new explosive drama for World AIDS Day on 1 December, entitled Shuga, focusing on six young people and their relationships, and the risks they take that put them at risk of HIV infection. Four actors from Shuga will be presenting an award at the MAMAs tomorrow.
“This will be an opportunity to meet with some of the talented musicians, and talk directly to them about how they can help raise awareness of HIV and AIDS with their young audience,” Mr Roedy said.
“Using our global network to communicate HIV prevention messages is one of the most important things we can do to contribute to this cause. I want the media and business to show global leadership by educating the world to prevent the spread of HIV,” he added.
Some 22 million people are living with HIV in Africa, two-thirds of the global total. Two million people died of AIDS in 2007, and three-quarters of these deaths were in Africa. Increased commitment and funding is bringing about progress: more than 4 million people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide now receive life-saving treatment, but at least 5 million people are still in need of treatment.
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