Nepalese Radio Program Discusses HIV/AIDS, Related Issues
A radio program in Nepal, called "Chatting With my Best Friend," is spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and safer sex practices, as well as providing youth at risk of HIV transmission with advice, Reuters reports.
The program, which launched in 2001, initially was broadcast in a few towns but now is run on 35 FM stations and the state-run Radio Nepal. The weekly, hour-long program discusses condom use, injection drug use and HIV prevention, according to Reuters. The program also "imparts life skills to the youth dealing with emotion, stress and communicating issues that can't be discussed with parents," according to Nirmal Rijal -- Nepal unit chief of the San Francisco-based aid group Equal Access, which produces the program with UNICEF support.
According to Reuters, many people in the country do not have access to information about HIV/AIDS and do not discuss such issues because of stigma. Binayak Aryal, a producer, said that the program initially received "letters complaining against the discussions on use of condoms, sex or sexual organs." Aryal said that since the program's launch, attitudes have changed and "[e]ven parents and school teachers advise the young people to listen to the program about sexual health." Rijal added that Equal Access receives about 1,500 letters monthly from listeners discussing their experiences with HIV/AIDS and related issues.
According to estimates, about 70,000 of Nepal's 26.4 million residents are living with HIV/AIDS (Sharma, Reuters, 1/9).