PRI’s ‘The World’ Profiles Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS in Iran and Malawi
PRI's "The World" -- a production of BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston -- on Friday interviewed Aresh Alaei and Kamiar Alaei, two Iranian physicians and brothers who advised Iran's Ministry of Health in establishing the country's HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program, which includes a national network of health centers offering HIV testing, no-charge condoms and a needle-exchange program (Werman, "The World," PRI, 9/22). According to Aresh Alaei, the first HIV diagnosis in Iran occurred in 1986 with a case of hemophilia, and the country did not launch pilot projects to address other modes of HIV transmission until 1997. Iran now operates 75 government-supported "triangular" clinics -- which integrate prevention, care and social support and which provide services anonymously -- in many cities as well as in 45 prisons, Alaei said. The programs encourage safer sexual practices among all clients regardless of their choice of sexual partner, and men who have sex with men -- who might not come to the clinics because of stigma -- also can find HIV prevention information online, according to Alaei. The physicians also discussed the country's use of hotlines, peer educators and an HIV/AIDS awareness handbook in high schools ("The World," PRI, 9/22). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
In addition, the program on Thursday profiled Kohei Yamada, a Japanese development worker who launched a campaign in Malawi to promote HIV testing in the country with a song, which became an "instant hit" and was nominated for the country's version of a Grammy award (Marmion, "The World," PRI, 9/21). According to PRI, Yamada wrote the song to encourage Malawians to be tested for HIV after witnessing the diagnoses and deaths of people in the village where he works. Many Malawians are afraid to take an HIV test because they think a positive HIV test result will bring rejection from family and friends, PRI reports. Yamada's song tells the story of a man who takes an HIV test with his girlfriend and receives a positive result but is not abandoned by his HIV-negative girlfriend as he feared. PRI reports that people in the country "t[ook] notice" of the song and its music video because Yamada sings in the Malawian local language of Chichewa and is featured in the music video as a Japanese Samurai fighting HIV/AIDS. Yamada recently released both songs in Japan, where he says people do not discuss HIV/AIDS enough, and will donate profits from the sales of the music to build an HIV testing center in Malawi. In addition, Yamada has written a second song in Chichewa meaning "Now is the time to fight," comparing HIV/AIDS in Malawi to a war ("The World," PRI, 9/21). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.