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Teaching AIDS

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:0405208
  1. Nadeeja Koralage, intercalating medical student1
  1. 1University of Westminster, London

Earlier this year Kofi Annan called for international media to schedule programmes which featured AIDS related storylines. Nadeeja Koralage looks at programmes dedicated to promoting HIV awareness

A young man in an eerily lit room cradles his drink before loading a gun. Cool drum and bass music, with Asian influences, plays in the background as he walks into a dark street. Voiceover: “Over 10 months, Detective Vijay will solve 10 of the toughest cases of his career.”

This is Detective Vijay. He is star of the mainstream television show, Jasoos Vijay, which has 125 million Indian viewers hooked.1 As well as crime fighting, the character dispels myths about HIV/AIDS. He is part of the BBC World Service Trust's initiative to educate about the disease through the media, India's largest campaign yet.

With an estimated 4.58 million cases of HIV/AIDS at the end of 2002, India has the world's second highest number after South Africa.1 Prevalence is relatively low in the northern states, and the campaign aims to prevent an epidemic in these areas, using the much loved media.

In January of this year, Kofi Annan, United Nations general secretary, launched the Global UN AIDS Media Initiative, seeking the use of international media to increase awareness of AIDS. Annan encouraged the delegates in New York, who included executive representatives from 20 broadcast companies, to commit to scheduling programmes which featured AIDS related storylines.

Speaking at the meeting, Annan said, “Education and entertainment are not mutually exclusive. If, for example, a well known character in a popular television series has to confront HIV or AIDS, this can have a dramatic effect on viewers or listeners who may not choose to watch or listen to a non-fiction programme about the epidemic.

Pictures from Jasoos Vijay. He promotes HIV awareness in …

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