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Multimedia AIDS awareness campaign 'What kind of a man are you?' launched

18-May-2005
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Multimedia AIDS awareness campaign 'What kind of a man are you?' launched

In India, we have a number of young married women who get infected with the HIV virus, due to the promiscuous behaviour of their husbands. In order to address AIDS awareness among young women, Breakthrough (an international human rights organisation) has taken up a 360-degree multimedia campaign titled 'What kind of a man are you?'

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), India currently has an estimated 51 lakh people infected with HIV/AIDS of which 19 lakh are women. While popular perception might lead one to believe that most of these women are commercial sex workers, official numbers indicate that sex workers constitute only around a lakh of the total female infections. The reality remains that most women are infected by the virus, through their husbands or primary male partners.

So, here's a video which portrays a husband who cannot believe that he can be infected with the AIDS virus, and the regret and pain that an expectant wife goes through when she learns that she has been infected as well.

Prasoon Joshi, Director, South and South East Asia, McCann, said, "The fact remains that most Indian women do not get into a thorough background check of the man that they are going to marry. Horoscopes are exchanged before the wedding vows are taken, but there aren't very many couples, who think that it's important to go in for a blood test. Matters of sex are conveniently pushed under the carpet, even in a juncture such as marriage wherein two people have taken the decision to spend the rest of their lives together."

He added, "Creating a campaign on women and HIV/AIDS was a real challenge and I tried to understand what a woman would say to her husband in a complex situation like this. This is the first time that a campaign encourages married couples to get involved in dialogue on gender relations and HIV/AIDS."

The commercial displays to the hilt, the feelings of pain and betrayal that a young mother-to-be goes through, when she realises that she has been infected with the deadly virus through her husband.

"I am glad that such a campaign has been taken up, because there is a need to educate women and make them more aware of the kind of danger they are putting their own lives in, if they stay blissfully unaware. You have every other kind of AIDS campaign, but not one that addresses a basic segment such as this one. Not everything is clinical is a marriage and women need to take a call if they are indeed as safe as what they think. In fact couples ought to take the onus on to themselves to get a blood test and to rule out the virus," said Mandira Bedi.

Bedi added, "I hope this campaign will empower women to discuss sexuality and their relationships with male partners.

The campaign encourages dialogue on HIV/AIDS among married couples in seven languages: Bengali, Hindi, English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. The campaign also includes a music video to the song Maati from Breakthrough's album Mann ke Manjeere (EMI-Virgin) sung by Shubha Mudgal.

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