HIV Infection rates in Tanzania are still extremely high and the majority of people do not understand the virus or its pathology and/or how it is transmitted.
To help address this issue, our Board member Andy Warren of Discovery Networks worked with the Discovery Learning Alliance to get 100 copies of their INSIDE STORY film donated to Unite for us to distribute to our friends and partners across East Africa. Additionally, to ensure the film reaches the largest audience possible, Unite the World with Africa Foundation awarded in 2015 a grant to Father Dennis Mnyanyi who is living in Morogoro, Tanzania, to launch a new HIV/AIDS education & screening program called “Graduate with As, not with AIDS.”
Dennis is showing the INSIDE STORY film (which is one of the mostly widely seen films across the African continent) at schools, colleges, universities, sports clubs and other places where, he writes, “young people are away from their parents, gather for long periods of time and, without a proper education, become high risk for getting HIV/AIDS.” INSIDE STORY combines dramatic film with animation to show the path of the HIV virus and how it infects, spreads and devastates the human body. Dennis has partnered with the local Red Cross to combine free testing and counseling with screenings of the film. At one college in Central Tanzania, of 700 students who were tests, 1/3 were found to be infected. “It’s very sad, especially when you know how young they are, and now that they are in this situation we can only wonder about their future; however, it is good that they know their status and they understand. This will help a lot and now they can be monitored, treated and counseled accordingly,” says Dennis.
Girls tend to become infected younger than boys, as they are generally married early and have older sexual partners. Also, girls and women, even married women, culturally face challenges protecting themselves and negotiating safe sex.
Sites where Dennis and his team are showing the film include: Mzumbe University, Jordan University, Sokoine University, Jamhuri Stadium, Faith Baptist Youth Center, Mennonite Compassion Center, the Anglican Cathedral, Saba Saba Community Center, Morogoro Social Hall, Amani Center and the Faraja Center.
According to Dennis, the program is successfully spreading awareness about how the virus is spread and what "safe sex" really means. He also reports that many people are changing their behaviors and pledging to be faithful to their wives and abstain from outside "inappropriate" relationships.