AIDS aloud

Published: Wednesday 15 September 2004

Even Now There is Still Hope Swaziland

How did hiv infect a third of Swaziland's population in 10 years? A 30-minute radio drama in this Southern African country is telling people how by deliberately using explicit subject matter, reports Even Now There is Still Hope, which is broadcast on public radio's SiSwati language station, has dramatised a child rape and a headmaster's seduction of a schoolgirl. The programme is based on The String Game, a lecture series that used cardboard display of cutout characters to show the relationships between family members and lovers, from married couples to cheating spouses, and even sexual predators. All inadvertently passed on hiv to partners or victims.

Even Now too, uses relationships to explain how aids spreads. "The information is now out there -- people know all about aids -- but this knowledge hasn't changed behaviour. We aim to do that," says Alan Brody, unicef country representative, who is sponsoring the drama.

Because of the explicitness of the subject matter, the unicef team was concerned about a backlash among conservative Swazis. But when national church elders heard the drama, they said: "Thank you. Now we understand."

After excerpts of the radio drama involving the molestation of a child were played, the country's information minister said: "We need more noble programmes like this on the national radio. We are dying like flies -- funerals are our weekend activity."

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