USAID, Western Aid Agencies and Local Nigerian Filmmakers Partner to Produce Feature Films With HIV Prevention Messages
The HIV prevention messages presented in a series of USAID-funded feature films -- produced by Family Health International and directed by Nigerian filmmakers Yakubu Mohammed and Sani Musa Danja -- have reached "tens of millions" of Nigerians, according to the Wall Street Journal. The original films use popular "soap-operatic" stories to convey AIDS prevention messages within a "religiously palatable" Muslim context. With 12 out of Nigeria's 36 states operating under Shariah, a strict Islamic code in which adultery carries a death sentence and condoms are seen as immoral, AIDS educators have found it "tricky" to find a religiously acceptable means of discussing the spread of the disease. Mohammed said, "If we really want to stop the spread of AIDS, we have to take religion into account." The first movie in the series, titled "Awakening," never mentions condoms and was approved by a local cleric before distribution. The success of the first film has led the filmmakers to tackle more controversial topics in the sequels, "Awakening 2" and "Awakening 3," including the use of condoms within marriage and the social stigma attached to the disease. The Nigerian Health Ministry says that 6% of the country's population is HIV-positive; however, a recent report from the U.S. National Intelligence Council predicts that 26% of adult Nigerians could be HIV-positive by 2010 if no steps are taken to stem the spread of the virus (Phillips, Wall Street Journal, 12/20).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.