Study finds MTV AIDS project changes HIV attitudes

Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:31pm EDT
 
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By Kate Kelland

VIENNA (Reuters) - MTV drama programs about HIV and AIDS shown to young people in some of the highest-risk countries in Africa and the Caribbean had a dramatic affect on attitudes to the disease, a study released on Tuesday showed.

A U.N.-backed project by the MTV music channel used television dramas designed for young people to convey messages about the risks of HIV infection from having unsafe sex, multiple partners and injecting drugs and also to give information about testing, treatment and overcoming stigma.

Researchers from the United States who studied the effect of the programs on audiences in Kenya, Zambia and Trinidad and Tobago found they altered young people's thinking about HIV and

AIDS.

MTV now plans to take the project to more countries in an effort to change attitudes.

"The results have shown a really positive change in terms of attitudes, knowledge and the sense among young people that they understand the risks and can take action to address them," said Susan Kasedde, a specialist in HIV prevention among adolescents at UNICEF, the U.N. children's fund that backed the project.

The music channel launched a campaign called "MTV Staying Alive" in 1998, and has produced films, competitions and celebrity tie-ins to educate young people about the risks of HIV and AIDS and encourage them to talk about it.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected HIV, accounting for 67 percent of the 33.4 million people living with the virus worldwide.   Continued...

 
<p>The MTV logo can be seen on a sign in front of the MTV studios in Times Square New York December 12, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>