Stories can save lives: Breaking through stigma with video stories

Stories can save lives: Breaking through stigma with video stories

Author: Robert Inglis – The Yazi Centre for Science and Society in Africa, South Africa

Co-author: Jacob Bor – Boston University School of Public Health

If the HIV and AIDS epidemic has an epicenter, it is southern Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal. In the small rural village of Matubatuba, the average life expectancy dropped below 49. Lives were shattered and families torn apart as literally thousands of people died. A generation grew up surrounded by death and disease and little hope for the future.

In 2004, with the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, the situation started to change. Over the past 13 years, life expectancy has been on the rise and the most recent data demonstrates it is now pushing 67 years. But how can this dramatic story be told to the young people who grew up in the shadow of HIV and AIDS? The stigma is massive, and the numerical concepts of average life expectancy, and the physiological details of antiretroviral therapy are complex.

Stories can save lives. Researchers from Boston University who were based at the Africa Health Research Institute in Mtubatuba, partnered with multi-media science communication specialists Jive Media Africa, to film the stories of people who were living long lives due to antiretroviral therapy. It was their hope that the personal narratives of people who had survived and thrived in spite of HIV could be used to encourage young people to see a different future for themselves, and to take steps to secure their futures through HIV testing and treatment. Through mixed methods research the results and impacts of the approach were measured.

Using participatory approaches to create compelling media is the subject of this show, tell and talk presentation. A short excerpt of the video will be screened and the results of the research shared along with insights about the science communication considerations, including critical aspects such as streamlining production processes, securing informed consent and ethical considerations.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices