Success Stories: "A Re Chencheng": Behavior Change Video Released In Botswana
GABORONE - The scene opens in a familiar setting: two Batswana men sitting outside in their yard, drinking beers and having a discussion.
"Do you know so many people have been killed by alcohol?" one man asks the other. "If it's not by contracting the deadly HIV disease then it's all accidents - either you are too drunk to know what you are doing or you end up cheating on your wife."
It may not be your typical backyard discussion over a couple of beers, but behavior change specialists working to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Botswana hope it becomes just that.
A new video entitled, "A re Chencheng" (Setswana for "Let's Change") is the latest attempt by BOTUSA - the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnership with Botswana - to create behavior change in ordinary people threatened in their everyday lives by the virus.
The video, produced with support from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), was released at an official launch in August 2006 to various organizations in government, non-government and the private sectors.
The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in Botswana last year was estimated at 33.4 percent, down from the 37.4 percent estimated in 2003, but still "unacceptably high," according to Minister of Health Professor Sheila Tlou. Time and again, behavior change has been cited as the greatest challenge to Botswana in reducing the number of new infections.
The 26-minute video opens with the commentator acknowledging the high prevalence, but adding that infection and death have become so commonplace that Batswana are becoming apathetic to the subject.
"We have become numb to the horrors of HIV and AIDS. Whether society has become complacent or simply unconcerned, we still need to address this issue," he says.
The video first grabs the viewers' attention with familiar images from Botswana's capital city: the parliament building, the bustling bus rank, a woman shucking corn and other vendors selling their wares at the outdoor mall.
Between the scenes are interviews with people on the street, HIV positive people, couples, counselors and caretakers, mixed with short skits that address issues of faithfulness, abstinence, and testing, among other things.
The video is an interactive tool developed to stimulate discussion among the viewers, said Prisca Tembo, an Information, Education and Communication (IEC) specialist at BOTUSA.
"There's quite a lot of IEC materials already out there dealing with these issues, but very few audio visuals," Tembo said. "BOTUSA wanted to develop something different and this one allows for interaction and discussions."
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