USAID Launches Short-Film Competition To Promote HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention in NepalUSAID recently launched a short-film competition, called "You Are No Exception," to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in Nepal, the Kathmandu Post reports. According to a report by the agency, many people living in rural parts of Nepal do not use condoms because they associate them with commercial sex work and immoral behavior.
Organizers said the competition provides eight Nepali filmmakers with the opportunity to create short films to educate audiences about HIV/AIDS, convey prevention messages and promote better understanding of individual risk. Participant Punendu Jha added that the competition aims to address social taboos and myths associated with the purchase and use of condoms, increase individual understanding of HIV risk and promote the use of condoms.
Alok Nembang, a filmmaker associated with the competition, said, "If we really want to prevent HIV from spreading, perhaps the first thing we need to let people know is, HIV/AIDS is not limited to any specific group of people," adding that HIV/AIDS "is not an endemic restricted to sex workers or drug users only." Dovan Rai, the scriptwriter of a film featured in the competition, said, "When it comes to HIV/AIDS, it is more than just a disease. The social harassment and stigmatization to [HIV-positive people] persist because we've still not been able to accept that we're not an exception either."
The Post reports that the selected films will be screened throughout the country and are expected to reach about 70% of the population. The initiative also includes other activities to promote awareness and prevention, including a celebrity advocacy campaign and a partnership with the Hotel Association of Nepal to provide condoms to their clients. USAID's Nepal project, which is run by the Academy for Educational Development, also is undertaking prevention campaigns that address stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and promote empowerment. The project also aims to increase the availability and use of products and services for family planning, maternal and child health, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (Kathmandu Post, 8/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.