Soap Operas in Some Developing Countries Promote Social Change, Fight HIV/AIDS Stigma
Television soap operas in some developing countries are credited with "saving lives, promoting social change and leading the fight against AIDS," Reuters/New York Times reports. Members of the industry who recently attended Population Communication International's Soap Summit in Los Angeles said that some of their greatest challenges are "cultural, and sometimes political, sensibilities of their target audiences," especially in countries facing HIV/AIDS epidemics, according to Reuters/Times. An Indian program, "Detective Vijay," which is aimed at men in rural areas of the country, deals with issues including female empowerment and HIV/AIDS. Devika Bahl, creative director of the show -- which is one of the country's top 10 programs -- said that they have not yet determined how to explain to viewers how the hero of the program contracted HIV because discussing some issues of sexuality is "still taboo," according to Reuters/Times. Bahl added, "We need to find ways of saying things that are culturally acceptable, otherwise the message is just not going to get through." PCI is a not-for-profit agency that works with governments, nongovernmental organizations and individual radio and television stations throughout the world to develop and fund locally produced soap operas "to inspire and motivate social change," Reuters/Times reports. Sonny Fox, PCI's senior vice president for the U.S. division, said that entertainment could be the "magic weapon" (Reuters/New York Times, 11/18).
Additional information on HIV/AIDS in India is available online as part of kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on HIV/AIDS.
Also available online is a kaisernetwork.org video feature on HIV/AIDS in India, which mentions the "Detective Veejay" program. The report -- prepared by Fred de Sam Lazaro, also a correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer -- includes interviews with people who are on frontlines of India's efforts.