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Sisters start newspaper about AIDS
AIDS picture
Issue: AIDS

Activity: Wordbuilding

Other: Links
In Zambia, two sisters, Cathy and Mary Phiri, have set up a newspaper to educate young people about AIDS. The paper is called Trendsetters and is now four years old.


Fact file

What is it?
How bad is it?
What causes it?

What is it?
Aids is a weakening of the immune system caused by the virus, HIV.

The sufferer loses the ability to fight infection, and may fall victim to illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and tumours.

It was first identified in the early 1980s, but the first case of the disease may have occurred much earlier - in Africa in the late 1950s.

Most researchers believe humans acquired Aids from chimpanzees by eating them or being bitten by them.
Chimpanzees sometimes carry a similar virus.

A minority view holds that it was spread by a vaccine made from infected chimpanzee tissue.

Cathy PhiriThere was no media aimed at young people about HIV and AIDS
Cathy Phiri, Trendsetters

10,000 copies sell out every month and there's also a special edition for secondary school pupils.

Breaking taboos

When the paper started it attracted a lot of criticism for writing explicitly about sex.
The paper tries to encourage young women to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by being more assertive and asking their boyfriends to use condoms.

This is especially difficult for young women who are often treated as second-class citizens by older men.

At least they use the kind of language we also use.
Trendsetters reader

Devastating effects

More than two thirds of the people who die from AIDS live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although their are signs that the devastating epidemic may be stablising, the United Nations estimates that AIDS will kill more than one third of young adults in some parts of Africa.
Trendsetters is valued by readers because it gives clear information on how to have safe sexual relationships. It also deals with difficult subjects - for example, how to talk to a rape survivor.
It's very realistic. ...... It helped me realise that anyone can catch Aids and we must all be careful.
Trendsetters readers

Funding the project

Initial funding for the paper came from the John Hopkins Center for
Communication Programmes in the USA. Then it attracted the support of the British international development charity, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

Extra effort is now going into getting the paper out to young people in rural areas where the need for information on HIV and AIDS is greatest
. And even though many young women in rural areas can not read, they find out about Trendsetters from friends, thanks to the tradition of sharing stories and information.

One copy will be read by 20 or 30 people who can share the information with their friends and colleagues.
Delores Long, VSO

Internet Links
AIDS - the facts
Find out more about HIV and AIDS
World AIDS day 2000 (BBC News Story)
AIDS around the world
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
Johns Hopkins University
Words in the News (Big Business verse public opinion)
Audio Links
Understanding Aids - Programme 3 of BBC English series

We're interested to hear about projects on many global issues. Click here to find out how you can send us details on projects in your area.
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