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On air,stories of people who stood by those with HIV

A mother-in-law fighting for her daughter-in-law,who was HIV+ and was denied rights in the family,a husband who supported his wife selflessly when her immune system collapsed...

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Mumbai |
August 10, 2010 12:41:47 am

A mother-in-law fighting for her daughter-in-law,who was HIV+ and was denied rights in the family,a husband who supported his wife selflessly when her immune system collapsed,and ward boys working beyond duty hours to look after patients in Anti Retroviral Therapy centers — these are stories of people who took care of their HIV+ loved ones. Compiled into 15 series,a radio prgramme on HIV positive people from the heart of Maharashtra is ready to go on air.

“Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial. For every person who is stigmatized,there is one who is not,” was the message from a member of the Maharashtra network of (HIV) positive people,introducing the radio programme.

Produced with the help of NGO Communications Hub,and recorded in Marathi,the programme will be broadcast every Saturday between 7.30 am and 8 am all over Maharashtra. The series was inaugurated at the recent World AIDS Conference in Vienna,and judged as the best initiative in stigma reduction. Funded by a grant from the World Bank,Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) is overlooking its broadcast at AIR.

Explaining the concept,Sonalini Mirchandani,Chief Executive of Communication Hub,said,“We were overwhelmed by the stories we got. From our side,we just provided training on the technical aspects of radio production — the rest as they say is history.” HIV+ people from districts like Solhapur,Satara,and Dhule took charge,recorded their stories and e-mailed them to the technical team in Mumbai.

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Another member of the Positive People’s Network points out that the stories should be looked at as journalistic endeavors and not as radio dramas. “Every interview is in the words of people who faced discrimination,and those who supported them. Only the music and the narration has been put together in Mumbai.”

The project has inspired MSACS to plan a similar TV programme. “We are already broadcasting a dial in show,where people with AIDS related queries can call. One show has already gone on air in Doordarshan,Maharashtra,” said Information Education and Communication in charge at MSCAS,Ashwini Jathar. She added that there are plans to expand this weekly programme to include real stories. MSACS will also roll out its first IEC initiative to target tribal people exclusively on AIDS awareness. Eight districts with high migration rates among tribals have been identified for this intervention. “Yavatmal,Nandurbar,Chandrapur,Nanded,and Ahmednagar are some districts where capacity building exercises will be conducted for tribals,in collaboration with their respective gram panchayats. School teachers and other advocacy groups will be specially trained in these areas. “We have also chalked out a plan to spread awareness through wall paintings,depicting stories of HIV positive people,in these districts,” added Jathar.

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