South African “Sesame Street” To Introduce HIV-Positive Muppet
The South African version of the children's television series "Sesame Street" will introduce an HIV-positive Muppet character this fall, the Washington Post reports. The character has not been designed, but will likely be a 5-year-old female "monster Muppet," akin to Grover or Elmo. How the character contracted HIV is still under discussion, but the likely cause will be through vertical transmission or a blood transfusion. Intravenous drug use and sexual practices will not be discussed on the show (Farhi, Washington Post, 7/12). Joel Schneider, vice president of Sesame Workshop, said the Muppet may become part of Sesame Street in other countries, including the United States. South Africa already has one children's show with an HIV-positive character, but Sesame Street will be the first aimed at children between the ages of three and seven (BBC News, 7/12). Schneider explained the character is intended to "destigmatize" HIV and foster "model positive behavior" toward those infected with HIV. "We want to show children that it's okay to touch [an HIV-positive person], okay to hug, that a person can still be a constructive part of the community," Schneider said (Washington Post, 7/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.