BBC World Service Trust campaigns for AIDS in India

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: The microphone used to read the BBC World Service last ever bulletin from Bush House on July 12, 2012 in London, England. Bush House - home to World Service radio for 70 years has now closed. The station has moved to a new building at Broadcasting House one mile away. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

More than 2.5 million people are living with HIV in the country and Multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use, specifically in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, have ensured that these states have the highest prevalence of AIDS afflicted persons across the country.

In a bid to create a buzz, get people to talk about their fears and bust prevalent myths about the dreaded disease, the BBC World Service Trust, a non government organisation (NGO), is to flag off a series of interactive measures from December 1, World Aids Day.

To get the message across the Indian populace the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had come to the aid of the NGO with a grant of $6 million, to be used over a two-year period.

First off the mark is a contest with one aim, to get people talking. The target audience is 50 million men, in the reproductive age group. A clever riddle will entice consumers through a mass media campaign. There are clues like “It’s a sign of manhood…but it’s not a moustache. The one who doesn’t talk about it is no man” and so on.

Says Yvonne MacPherson, project director of the BBC World Service Trust, “The fun brain teaser will involve interactivity between the target audience, with an invitation to phone in to a certain number and get people to say—not SMS—the answer to the riddle. That way, we encourage more talk. And the booty is a mobile phone prize, which again encourages one to talk.”

Over the past six years, the BBC World Service Trust has been implementing India’s largest HIV and AIDS mass media campaign.

It has produced two weekly television shows for Doordarshan (the public TV broadcaster): a drama, starring HIV-positive detective Jasoos Vijay, and a reality show Haath se Haath Milaa, which featured over 40 Hindi film stars. The last series of Jasoos Vijay was watched by over 70 million viewers.

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