Tag Archives: World Aids Day 2014

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Behind ODESZA’s “Sun Models” music video

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The use of the drone to film aerial images generated great attention among the public, who curious gathered around to take pictures with their cellphones. ©UNICEF Chad/2014/Manuel Moreno

It is the 30th of October of 2014 and I am standing with a drone flying above my head, accompanied by three heavily armed military men, one United Nations security advisor, five international filmmakers, seven actors and a four-month-old baby called Patricia. Dozens of people are taking pictures with their cellphones…. I close my eyes and I ask to myself: how did I arrive here?

I feel like I am on a film set in Los Angeles and a Hollywood cinematographer myself, but this is Moundou, southern Chad, and I work for UNICEF. The drone is actually filming a beautiful sunset scene; the military men are controlling the amused crowd; the security person is a colleague; and Patricia, the baby, is the main actress of the story.

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L: Menodji Gloria plays the role of baby Patricia’s mother. R: Emile Fitikissou and baby Patricia. Both are father and daughter on and off screen. ©UNICEF Chad/2014/Manuel Moreno

So, what does this have to do with the work of UNICEF?

Moundou is a beautiful sunny green town located about 400 kilometers south of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. It was chosen for the filming of the music video produced by UNICEF Chad in collaboration with American electronic music duo ODESZA. The video aims to illuminate a critical step in achieving an AIDS-free generation: expanding access to HIV treatment for pregnant women.

The song chosen was ODESZA´s “Sun Models” and its duo, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, were fully on board since the conception of the project.

It is commonly known that music can inspire people. This project was born from this specific idea: if music is accompanied by a moving story, with a message of hope, the final product could be the catalyst to reach individuals, news media, political figures, the international community and donors to focus more on an issue.

 

A clear message: children born to HIV-positive mothers can be HIV-free
The world has what is needed to eliminate the transmission of the virus from mother-to-child and achieve an AIDS-free generation. New HIV infections among children in high-income countries is virtually zero, but according to UNICEF´s 2014 Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS, despite great progress, a child is born with HIV every two minutes.

So what are we missing? Where are we failing? Why, in low-income countries such as Chad, is the prevalence of babies born HIV-positive so high?

In the past few years, Chad has shown great commitment in the expansion of programmes that keep women living with HIV alive and effectively prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The coverage in health facilities offering these services has tripled since 2012 and, as a result, more than two thousand babies were born free of HIV in 2013. However, 10,000 pregnant women living with HIV are still left without treatment and support in the country.

Filming the market scene argument for ODESZA´s Music Video on PMTCT.

Filming the market scene for ODESZA´s music video on PMTCT. ©UNICEF Chad/2014/Manuel Moreno

So, we know what works – but so much more needs to be done. How does the video fit into all of this?

For starters, the video will serve as an advocacy tool for the First Lady of the Republic of Chad and current President of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), and it will be presented during the upcoming Summit of the African Union, which will be held on the 28th of January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thanks to this initiative, the video could spark greater discussion among high level political leaders and hopefully pave a pathway to reinforce planning of national and regional HIV strategies and policies to keep babies HIV-free and their mothers alive.

Since its launch on the 1st of December, marking this year’s World AIDS Day, the music video has reached over 2,3 million people through social media channels and it has been praised for being inspiring and beautiful by the press within the music world. The video is also a good entryway to engage young people globally who may not know about PMTCT or  the work of UNICEF.

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Photo of the Week: Fighting HIV in Nepal

© UNICEF/HIVA2014-00116/Karki

© UNICEF/HIVA2014-00116/Karki

Indra, with her husband and two daughters, remembers how she felt two years ago upon learning she was living with HIV: “I was so shocked that I neither spoke nor cried. I thought I would die soon.”

Now seven months into her third pregnancy, she regularly receives antenatal care and services to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, at a hospital in Achham District. UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health and Population’s work to expand access to PMTCT programmes. (Nepal, 2014)

To see more images from UNICEF visit UNICEF Photography.

You can also see the latest photos on the UNICEF Photo app

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World AIDS Day 2014: HIV and me

I am a peer counselor, and I have been HIV-positive for 6 years. In a way, I don’t see it as a bad thing, because I have learned to live differently, to be more humane and to improve my self-esteem.

When I was first diagnosed, it was something raw in my life. I did not know what to do. Back then, two things crossed my mind: Who do I tell? and, What will become of me? Carlos, a friend who is also HIV-positive, helped lift my self-esteem. I grew to understand that my fight was not against HIV; my fight was and remains to change social norms that will allow me to be seen as a person, free from shame, enterprising, and who is entitled to fully enjoy the same rights as any Ecuadorian citizen.

My struggle has been hard. For a time, when I first started treatment, the supply of antiretroviral treatment ran out at my hospital. We were asked to go to the hospital every day for just one dose, since we were not given a one-month supply as we should have been given. I had just started treatment and was tired of going to the hospital every day for just one dose. I lost my job because I spent so much time standing in long lines at the hospital, despite waking up early. It was intense, since the hospital attends all persons who come in from the provinces, who even slept there in hopes of at least getting treatment for two weeks.

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At the time, I did not know what activism was. I met a few people, among them my colleagues who continue to be activists. I noticed they pressured the director of the hospital to respond to this shortage through the media. It was then that I decided to approach the media, and I began to demand that the government provide treatment. Although the media knew they could not take our pictures because of confidentiality issues, local press took my picture without my knowledge or consent. This news and my picture were printed in the press. I became concerned because my health was at risk.

My family did not know my status. An aunt found out through the article published in the local newspaper that I have HIV. She began to tell everyone that I had AIDS; my neighborhood would have found out if I had not stopped her. Currently, only a few people know my status: my mom, who found out from my aunt, a cousin who I told because she is like my sister, an uncle and my grandfather. These last two completely discriminated against me, distancing themselves from my family and my home, telling my aunt, cousin and mom to distance themselves from me because I would infect them.

Second Decade

When my mom found out that I had HIV, it was devastating for her. She felt defeated thinking that I was going to die, that I could infect everyone in the house, and that they had to get urgently tested to see if they had AIDS, too. At that moment I did not know what to do or how to defend myself, but I found comfort in my true friends who work with me in the organization. I spoke with them about it, a team of three people whom I now consider more than friends, my family.

Thankfully, they helped me resolve the problem before more people found out. They came to my house to speak with my mom about HIV. They shared everything they had gone through living with HIV, and told her I was not alone since I had their support. My mom felt very comforted and supported after meeting them, and she accepted that I have HIV. She hugged me, cried with me, and told me to move forward with my life and not think of the bad but the positive, that I could count on her in everything and that she would always be by my side.

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Participants at the first national meeting organized by the HIV-positive Adolescent and Youth Network, September 2014. © UNICEF LACRO/2014/Metellus

When I first learned of my diagnosis, I started volunteering because I needed to do something more. I eventually ended up in an organization where I met people who had already been living with HIV for many years, who shared their experiences with me and supported me. I felt the need to learn more about HIV, and in that way share with others people who are diagnosed with HIV. I strengthened my abilities over a long period of time by offering peer counseling during orientations, supporting persons living with HIV, disseminating information about HIV and their rights. Eventually, I became a part of the organization’s leadership, which allows me to promote the quality of life of other youth like me to empower them, impacting each and every one of their lives.

However, there is still discrimination because job opportunities are few. I have spent years leaving my resume in different businesses, filling all the requirements and having all knowledge needed for jobs posted. But, most of my experience has been related to HIV, performing jobs such as health education, health promoter, and facilitation skills, among others, that are on my resume. Although I try to mask this information, I end up having to explain the diplomas that I’ve obtained to the interviewer. I am often asked everything, and that is when I find myself under fire when I am asked the million-dollar question: are you a carrier? Sometimes I deny it, sometimes I do not, since I want to get the job. However, they just stare at me like I am strange and tell me they will call me. I know that answer very well.

All I can say is that a person who lives with HIV is a person that has a special health condition. This is part of my reality. Many do not know what the virus is; only a person living with HIV can best explain what it is. When I speak with peers, there is a chemistry between us where the other person takes away something from me, and I also take away something from that person. This is an experience that no one can understand unless they come from this world. I will continue to always collaborate with others as a peer counselor, learning more from each person. I consider myself like any other person; HIV does not limit or contain me. On the contrary, it motivates me because a health condition should not be a reason to discriminate anyone. What would I be without……
Humor Intelligence Life

Hector* is a member of Ecuador’s HIV-positive Adolescents and Youth Network and helps other HIV-positive youth as a peer counselor with Grupo F.A.V.U., an HIV/AIDS organization in Ecuador that helps other persons living with HIV/AIDS manage their condition and improve their quality of life. He shared his story with UNICEF during the HIV-positive Adolescent and Youth Network’s first national meeting, held in September 2014, ahead of World Aids Day 2014. Hector’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

Edited by Eveliz Metellus, a UN Volunteer working with UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office’s HIV and AIDS Programme. The story originally appeared here.